Pinback - Autumn of the Seraphs (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Autumn of the Seraphs (2007)

Touch and Go

Well, it's that time of year again my pretties; it's time to grow out your facial pubes and pick that scarf up out the milk crates; it's fall! (Alternatively, if you live in Toronto, I think it has been that time of year for the last decade or so.) Lucky for us, it would appear that the fellows of Smith, Crow and Co. are just about as ripe for the season as you and me. You see, their latest full-length intentionally gives the impression of decay; evoking both with its name and beautiful album art, images of the Judaeo-Christian fall from grace, as well as the commonly acknowledged climatic shift that occurs on what we the Romans call the 21st of September. For such drab and dreary sentiments, you might expect something harsh or abrasive, but the end result is something rather warm and inviting.

The seasonal theme lends itself well to Pinback's musical output in general, but particularly, this release. After all, there's the hurriedly paced opener "From Nothing to Nowhere," with its minimal lyrical sections that are repeated to maintain a cerebral cyclical quality much like -- you guessed it -- a season (that was my best Dr. Cox impression). The vocal interplay between Smith and Crow on songs like the bass-driven, saucy funk of "Barnes" only serves to reinforce these already well-established qualities. You may be asking yourself if the only thing giving this record's warmth is my contemplation of the interplay between two men? Fear not; if the light electronic pop of the keyboards on "Good to Sea" don't serve to melt away depression that tends to beset the populace in the fall, I don't know what will. Even when the words "Oh no I hit rock bottom" are uttered near the end of the track, they leave the listener with contradictory feelings of elation. I mean, this is the type of song I would have sex to if anyone could stand to be in my company for more than five minutes.

So what we've got here is Pinback honing and tightening up the qualities that made them a great indie pop group to begin with, the qualities that were somewhat lacking on the last record. I think if you sit back and listen to this with a good pair of headphones on, Autumn of the Seraphs should carry you well beyond the season that dare not speak its name, and you'll be switching up your Hall & Oates for Smith and Crow in no time. That is, unless of course you don't like funky, subtle, and sophisticated pop music, then you won't be listening to Hall & Oates at all.

FYI: I tend to listen to this album as a companion piece to Minus the Bear's Planet of Ice; take that as you will.