We have a tendency to take consistency for granted. Like a sunny Southern California day, Pinback have delivered record after record of mightily addictive indie pop since their inception in the late 1990s. Perhaps too melancholic and thoughtful to function as escapist entertainment, that same sense of depth is what made them one of the most reliable bands in indie rock’s three-decade history.
On one hand, their fifth album, Information Retrieved (2012), is the logical and accessible realization of a sound Pinback have been developing and refining for over a decade. However, that consistency that we’ve taken for granted is what makes Information Retrieved such a euphoric surprise; their finest and most fully realized album, a dozen years deep into a career that includes bona fide modern classics like “Good To Sea” and Summer In Abaddon. Simply put, this is better than we ever could have expected. They could have coasted on automatic pilot to another lauded album that likely would have made it onto plenty of year-end lists, but instead they shot the moon, and the result is a major triumph.
The touchstones are still there: Zach Smith‘s stunningly unique bass guitar acrobatics driving both rhythm and melody in lock-step unison; the incredible immediacy of Rob Crow‘s voice that could make a phone book sound compelling; and the musical and lyrical interplay between the two of them that made Pinback so special in the first place. The difference now is their exquisite control over dynamics and a greater emotional resonance throughout. It’s the most complete and soulful Pinback album by a fair distance, the finest moment in the career of a band whose unfettered brilliance we’ve come to count on, but will never again take for granted.