Nothing else sounds like Pinback and, for that alone, the San Diego duo deserves a fucking medal. Its wistfully propulsive weaves of articulate bass, understated guitar, beatbox (or beatbox-inspired) grooves and conversing voices come from a place of both contentment and disquiet, at once transmitting optimism's comforting glow and the clanking chill of solitude. Rob Crow and Zac Smith are staring into space the morning after, yet their view is pristine.

Last year's Autumn of the Seraphs is a more consistent if less spectacular continuation of Pinback's breakthrough third album, 2004's Summer in Abaddon, and (despite the respective titles) it actually finds the band somewhat merrier. There's something almost around-the-campfire communal about the pair's vocal interplay, yet the math-y musicality and Rolex rhythms still evoke first-generation video games and, occasionally, possessed cash registers.

Don't be misled by the act's multipiece, instrument-swapping live incarnation (or prog-worthy album titles): Pinback's songs are painstakingly choreographed, precision-guided expressions, not meandering jam-band gumbos. This is intelligent, gorgeously muted music for functioning stoners and oversensitive boys and girls everywhere.

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Paul Rogers
Contact: Paul Rogers