Reviews:: Pinback Autumn of the Seraphs

Well, it's a week before the release of the new Pinback record, and with all the large scale LPs (Kanye, Fifty Cents, Animal Collective, Shout Out Louds) due out on 9/11, I thought a nice glowing review might start the ball rolling.

It's almost become too easy for people to talk about Pinback. How do you want to describe the band? You could use some incredibly music-nerded out line like, "Super tight tracks with looping vocals, free flowing melodies, smoothed out guitar lines, and understated, bouncy bass." Or just say.. "You know... it sounds like Pinback." Sadly, with the release of their fourth record – Autumn of the Seraphs – people seem to be overlooking the big strides the band made and just picking the latter descriptor.

Before you get freaked out, don't worry. The band still hits you with jams that are tighter than Balkey and Larry, but they really add some new sounds, emotions and instruments on AoS. The record leads off with a trademark Pinback melody (From Nothing to Nowhere). They quickly settle into the jam and you find yourself nodding along and they keep the energy up with a seamless transition into the funky, big beat of Barnes.

But as the video game sounds and incredibly poppy riff bounces out of your headphones on Good to Sea, you start to realize Pinback has a few other tricks up their collective sleeve. The hook grabs you like that uncle your parents tell you to avoid and it's easily the most immediate track on the record. How We Breath drops the tempo and the duo throws in some heavy piano and acoustic textures to really change the vibe of the record.

This is the first time I've ever thought of the band's sound as organic, but when you hear the looped vocals float along with the bass line and piano it really diversifies the record. Walters starts with an almost folky arrangement that exposes another wrinkle, before morphing into a syncopated beat with piano and fuzzed out (dare I say, shoegaze) sound. The prominence of the piano again is surprising, but incredibly successful and when the song hits full stride, the fullness of the mix is impressive.

The band returns to its traditional sound on Subbing for Eden. It's a smoothed out flow with a nice bass line and clapping drum line and that comfortable sounds continues on Devil you Know. There's a reason you see hundreds of skinny dudes nodding in unison at every Pinback show, but when you really listen, you notice Devil You Know adds a much angrier feel than you've come to expect from the California duo.

Probably the most enjoyable moment for me was the intro to Blue Harvest – and that's because at first I thought they covered Message in a Bottle (which I think they could tear up), but quickly realized it wasn't what this album needed. Instead, the song's punkish/reggae vibe is inspired by the Police, but still 100% Pinback.

By the time Torch hits, they've completely freshened up the math rock formula and you realize your 9 songs into the record without any song falling victim to the sames-ies (and that's without even talking about the metal tinged riff and soaring sound of the album closer - Off By 50). Considering how quick people are to try to solve Pinback's sound with a simple equation, I'm not sure I can give this record any better compliment.
MP3:: From Nothing To Nowhere

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