By Ben Opipari
Friday, November 9, 2012
“Information Retrieved” is Pinback’s first studio album in five years, but fans shouldn’t be concerned that the band would emerge with a new sound. It still sounds like Pinback. This is the selling point, because the California-based duo of Rob Crow and Zach Smith has pulled off a feat that’s almost impossible in indie rock today: no reverb.
Reverb has become ubiquitous in indie music, so when the crackle of a snare drum sounds like the crack of a whip rather than an echo in a canyon, we take notice. Pinback’s music is crisp and clean. The arrangements are spare -- bass, guitar, drums and keys -- and the instruments breathe because their notes don’t fall over one another. Guitars have their own space: They’re layered, yet easy to distinguish. And without reverb, Crow’s clean voice never intrudes.
The band’s earlier math-rock tendencies don’t appear as often on “Information Retrieved,” though not every track is catchy at first. The melodic opening track, “Proceed to Memory,” is positioned well, swelling gradually and increasing in intensity as the instruments are introduced.
Most of the songs follow a similar pattern. Not all are hummable -- “His Phase” and “True North” might be exceptions -- but the band’s attention to how each instrument sounds individually, rather than collectively, will make you want to slap on a giant pair of headphones and await the arrival of the next sound.