After three years of Rob Crow sowing his wild musical oats with namely Goblin Cock and his solo album, he has joined back with Armistead Burwell Smith IV to put out another album under the name Pinback. Autumn of the Seraphs is Pinback's second album for Touch & Go and you can tell right from the first note that the band hasn't changed the formula that has made them one of the most consistently solid indie rock bands of the past decade.
While they might not have changed the formula, the band has seemed to find themselves in a bit of a rut. The first half of the album consists of some of the better songs the band has released. The first single, "From Nothing to Nowhere," is a very straightforward song and actually is one of the most aggressive Pinback songs I have ever heard. It makes a good choice of a single considering it's pretty simple but that is also one of it's weaknesses as well. It's too simple. The next two songs definitely make up for it for long time fans of the band though. "Barmes" is a bouncy song that goes through many changes throughout the song and keeps you on your toes. This is the first song that I feel that, one of two new drummers, Chris Prescott's presence is very obvious. Having done time with the former San Diego indie rockers No Knife (one of my all time favoritea) his drumming really brings a bit of No Knife to Pinback's table.
"Good to Sea" is my favorite of the album and would have been my personal choice for the first single. It's the first to feature Pinback's signature drum machine and is incredibly poppy. This song is a reminder that when Pinback is on, holy crap are they on. Very reminiscent of a track that could very well be off their self-titled debut. They follow it up with "How We Breathe," which keeps the drum machine going. Another solid track that plays a very good opposite next to "Good to Sea" as it is a much more slower and somber affair.
The problem with this album is, after those first four songs, the album just seems to lose itself. It dips down into mediocrity, which is a word I usually wouldn't associate with Pinback. "Walters" is an alright song it just doesn't seem to have anything to catch your interest. It just sounds like Pinback going through the motions. "Subbing for Eden" features a build up type chorus that almost doesn't sound like the same song as the verses and the build up just never goes anywhere. The intro and verses to "Blue Harvest" sounds nearly identical to The Police's "Message in a Bottle."
The songs begin to find some form of substance again with "Torch," which is a definitely a really good song, but if you are like me, you have already found yourself a bit too bored to make it this far every time. "Off By 50" brings a bit of a Goblin Cock type intro riff into the fold, which is nice. Outside of the music for the release, the band decided to go quite a bit different with the album artwork. My initial reaction was that it looked more like a Magic The Gathering card than a Pinback album. My reaction was confirmed to be correct when I found out that a MTG artist did indeed do the artwork. It most certainly does not work for the band but to each their own I suppose.
If you are a long time fan of Pinback, there are some songs on here that are just for you. Be prepared to be disappointed with some of the tracks though. If you are just getting into Pinback, I suggest you start with their self-titled debut and work your way up from there. Hopefully we'll see Pinback make it out of this rut with their next album.
6.5 / 10
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