[18 July 2011]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
If Graham Repulski’s catchy lo-fi pop experiments don’t remind you of a “a certain Dayton, OH performer named Pollard”, then certainly the prolificacy of its output will. Into an Animal Together, the band’s fifth release in 12 months, is its most scatter-shot collection of pop songs to date. It’s also the best. In just 32 minutes, the band covers 24 fuzzy, oddball songs that go all over the place, from formless noise experiments to buzzing rock to undeniable pop gems. “Heavy Metal Ally” and “At the Pain Olympics” are just two of many ultra-catchy, rattling tunes with cutting riffs and plaintiff, melodic vocals that drive each line home. What makes Graham Repulski more than just another lo-fi band, though, is how it succeeds when band members don’t play it straight. They can go from garage rock on those songs to the fuzz-folk brevity of “Atomic Turd (Slightly Beautiful)” or “An Honest Mistake” or get you with the space-pop balladry of “Burnt Bootleg Antiquity”. They also shift between songs with effective ambient breaks that show their skewed, but excellent, sense of layering. You may find it hard to fully separate the group from early GBV—the fact that Todd Tobias mastered the album won’t help—but it’s worth it to push past that comparison. At the end of the day, Into an Animal Together is a weird, arresting pop noise that belongs solely to Graham Repulski. It realizes all the promise shown on the last full releases and, for all its scuzzy murk, is a clearly brilliant pop record.