PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Pinback: Autumn of the Seraphs

Autumn of the Seraphs is nothing but a photocopy of their last album. Fortunately for us, their last album was absolutely brilliant.


Pinback

Autumn of the Seraphs

Label: Touch & Go
US Release Date: 2007-09-11
UK Release Date: 2007-09-10
Amazon
iTunes

Everyone has a favorite band. Sure, it may shift depending on your mood or age, but we all pledge loyalty to some recording artist somewhere, which can range anywhere from 50 Cent to Glenn Gould. However, there are some fanships that are more rewarding than others. If you're a fan of Panic! At the Disco, for example, you get treated to a spectacular live show, but you also have a spectacular ticket price to go with it. The hardcore fans can buy the "Collector's Edition" of their debut album, which was basically their debut album with a whole bunch of unnecessary bonus crap thrown in. Let's face it: you need the official P!ATD paper mask and (no kidding) a phenakistoscope. This, my friends, is a very iffy type of fanship.

If you're a fan of Pinback, however, then you're treated very well.

Pinback, for those who don't know, are a mega-melodic indie-guitar duo consisting of Zach Smith and the ever-prolific Rob Crow. Their 2004 release, Summer in Abaddon, was an extraordinary disc of spikey guitars, left-field arrangements and hushed-yet-haunting lyricism. Note how the breezy "Fortress" and the furious "AFK" were picked as great bi-polar singles. It garnered critical waves of joy, solid sales, and a bunch of fans. Yet for those who left Summer with a bloodlust for more, Pinback delivered, giving their fans a B-sides & rarities collection that was on par with any of their albums (Nautical Antiques). This was followed by Rob Crow dropping a solo album that brilliantly expanded on the intimacy and immediacy that lingers in every Pinback song (Living Well). Pinback fans were happy fans.

Now, Pinback releases Autumn in the Seraphs, which just might be one of the greatest placeholders to in recent memory.

Each new album and EP from Smith & Crow tended to show some sort of musical growth of great significance. Before Abaddon stormed the hearts of the indie world, they quietly released an EP the year prior called Offcell where the duo used electronic instrumentation to take their sound to the far reaches of the universe and back. With Seraphs, however, the duo don't really expand their sound as much as repeat it. There are still some moments of instantaneous shot-in-the-arm satisfaction, but here the group swaps out diverse musicality for a more insular lyrical view. Even with that drawback, it still pays off pretty well. Still, it should be noted that Seraphs kicks off with a barn-storming knockout of a rocker called "From Nothing to Nowhere" that doesn't waste a single second of time. Though lyrically cryptic and obtuse ("If it's nothing but a sign / Bleed onto your shoes, man"), it still is a welcome gem for any fans who are making the transition from Summer to Autumn. However from this point on, things get a little hazy.

Some bands have styles that are identifiable from miles away. You can always tell a New Order song because of it's very distinctive bass sound, and you can always tell a Pinback song because of Crow's stylized guitar style, both in picking and tone. On Crow's Living Well, he switched that sound up enough, using acoustic guitars and sampled effects , to make an album that didn't drag that much. By the time that Seraphs gets around to "Subbing for Eden", the trick gets a little tired. The momentum really drags in Seraphs' soggy middle. This is where the perpetual Pinback problem of Crow's voice being too low in the mix rears its ugly head again. Yet these low points are almost forgiven thanks to some stunning gems that prove to be some of Pinback's best to date.

"Good to Sea" is a remarkable pop song, complete with twinkling guitar effects and a propulsive mid-tempo energy. It rubs right up next to "How We Breathe", a wounded ballad that sounds good at first, but becomes amazing once the piano chords come in, making it feel like an epic journey to the center of your soul. Furthermore, for every time Crow comes off as a bit lyrically obtuse there's another time when he hits it out of the park. He does this in the middle of the beautiful and tear-jerking "Walters", the hands-down album highlight:

Larry climbs into his lawn chair

Waves a goodbye

Unties from the post

Races towards the sky

Takes a sip out of his beer

And says "It looks amazing"

He said "It looks amazing"

Climbs until he can't think

Can't hear a sound

Shoots out the balloons

And falls to the ground

Jumps out off of his chair

And says "It was amazing"

Even though Seraphs has a bit more of a rock edge, the fury seen on "AFK" is largely left behind. "Off By 50" scores the album's left-field weirdo moment by sounding exactly like Radiohead covering "Iron Man". "Devil You Know" is built around a snarky riff that will have any serious alt-rocker smacking themselves over the head saying "I wish I wrote that!" before handing it over to Chris Lord-Alge. Pinback never need to crank their amps up to prove that they're rocking out, mainly because they just write good songs.

Yet good songs alone do not a spectacular album make. Autumn of the Seraphs shows no major songwriting leaps at all, but it's still a fine indie-rock LP. "From Nothing to Nowhere", "Good to Sea" and "Walters" will all make their way onto that inevitable Pinback greatest hits compilation. In the meantime fans can rest easy: their favorite band didn't exactly top themselves this time around, but they still have yet to make a bad record. Now that's treating your fans well.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.