THE JIM YOSHII PILE-UP
"Picks Us Apart"
GET HIM EAT HIM
There's a hint of the Cure's sulky melodicism in the latest from the Jim Yoshii Pile-Up, but anyone really looking for a good wallow needs to listen to the lyrics. The Oakland-based indie-rock quintet's third album, "Picks Us Apart," opens with "A Toast to the Happy Couple," in which singer-guitarist Paul Gonzenbach prepares his suicide note and concludes by chanting, "You are all hereby formally indicted." Largely inspired by a recent bout of mental illness, these songs are starkly confessional.
That's not immediately obvious, since this is the band's lushest, most tuneful release, augmented by strings and multi-tracked vocal chorales.
Indeed, it sometimes seems the arrangements should have been starker, to highlight such musings as "Jailhouse Rock's" "They say the truth sounds like a lie / And you won't know when you die / If you've been cheated / Cheated or spared." But the tension between the bruised words and vigorous music is essential. "Picks Us Apart" isn't just a chronicle of one man's season of darkness; it's also a testament to reaching a new, brighter age.
Get Him Eat Him can't actually do it all, but the Providence quintet's debut album is so lively that listeners may be inclined to play along. Take the galloping "Bad Thoughts," whose opening synth squawks yield to death-metal rasping, which quickly shifts to pure-pop falsetto, lightly vocodered. Pop provides the bedrock for the briskly eclectic "Geography Cones," an album whose shiniest moments suggest the New Pornographers without a female singer, yet Get Him Eat Him clearly likes surprises.
Singer, guitarist and principal composer Matt Lemay used to write for online rockzine Pitchfork, and he's carefully studied the last 20 years of indie, from hyperactive post-punk to chill-out electro. His material includes some moments that are as clumsy as the band's name, but they may very well be intentional. When LeMay insists that he's "Not Not Nervous," the music doesn't entirely support his claim -- but its fidgety energy is part of the song's appeal.
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Monday at the Warehouse Next Door with the Fake Accents.