Pinback Autumn of the Seraphs

[Touch and Go; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: indie rock, cerebral guitar pop
Others: Built To Spill, The Dismemberment Plan, Slint

Pinback’s modus operandi has always been to break the listener down until blandness becomes something sine qua non. Below the surface, behind the shy demeanor, are spectacular songs, crafted adroitly. What initially sound like boredom’s halfwit brainchild is, after repeated listens, indispensable. To disregard the work of Zach Smith IV and Rob Crow is detrimental to your own enjoyment, because it’s a steadfast listener who will benefit from an almost indescribable goodness. Pinback are a good band.

Pinback have never reinvented the wheel. They dabble and absorb. They cartwheel-cling to the wheel’s spokes and roll down a hill, improving, digressing, and experimenting as they see fit. Their voice is one of whimsy, a mournful uplifting like that of Doug Martsch. Their freewheeling guitar figures recall the math of Slint. On tracks like “Good To Sea,” they provide the kind of happiness found in a cluttered den of gloom and mounted moose, a happiness found in polishing a hickory coffee table or opening the screen door to brittle leaves blowing in.

Pinback touch us in an affectionate way, exemplified pristinely with the piano on “Walters” — not with clamps or cold hands, but with warmth and when we most need it. At the same time, Pinback don't molest us. “Devil You Know,” like every Pinback track, is tight, but also features an inviting melody, reminiscent of a campfire tune. Like Jeremy Enigk, the two core members of Pinback provide introspection without shame, existing in that faint glimmer of emo in the universe — a glimmer, or maybe even a glint, that blinked perhaps once before combusting.

One can’t declare Autumn of the Seraphs, Pinback’s fourth full-length, any better than their first, second, or third album. Pinback exist as some hovering static entity, but with maddening dynamism fueling that cloud of quiescence. They’re more “take it easy” than queasy. Pinback don't make leaps and bounds, but they're also not bound to a chair and treated like lepers. We celebrate their consistent care and concern for the common moment. Pinback are the pins and needles on every inch of a person, without sappiness, only succulence.

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