Sesame Street. That's what The Number 12 Looks Like You's quirky band name makes me think of. Gangly puppets prancing around in celebration of the integer and letter that brought us today's episode. But these six guys from New Jersey got the name from a different TV show—The Twilight Zone—and there's nothing cuddly about the band's exploded take on the infinite permutations of post-hardcore. The hooks are pure metal, the vocals cry hardcore, and the jerky rhythms and open spaces recall free noise, meaning there are more genres in this single song than in some people's entire record collections.
Okay, so the Number 12 may not be fit for Sesame Street, but they're warmer and cuter than nearly every other post-hardcore outfit out there. And there's something downright cartoon-ish about how many moods and sounds they cram into their records. Such a scattershot m.o. can work for and against a band, and while some reviewers go gaga for the Number 12's gleeful range, others see it as a weakness, or worse, all for show.
The problem with that last theory is that it discounts how much damn fun these guys are clearly having. One minute they careen around like the Blood Brothers on speed, and the next they take a breather to admire the atmosphere. Their genre-blind cherry-picking is maybe the best thing to come from this fuzzy trend called post-hardcore, and the band's insane commitment to touring has helped spread the gospel far and wide.
In an age of screamo automatons with frowns frozen in place, isn't it swell to have a band like the Number 12 to inject some whimsy and daring into the proceedings? As their new album Mongrelnears its June release and the band begins tearing up turf to tour behind it, more power to them.
The Number 12 Looks Like You, Azusa, Phinehaus and Betray the Passenger perform at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067; www.allages.com. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $10. All ages.