Release Date: Oct 16, 2012
Record label: Temporary Residence
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
In the five years since Pinback went on vacay, indiephiles finally decided to embrace soft rock. Perish the thought that they aren’t acquainted with Pinback, who mastered the art of the quiet and smooth when it was still un-hip to like Fleetwood Mac and The Police. “I feel the cool water rushing over me,” Rob Crow croons on “Sherman.” Listen to Information—which is expertly manicured but never manufactured—and you will feel the same.
While it's been five years since their last release, virtually a lifetime in the digital era, the knotty beauty of Pinback's sound makes their fifth album, Information Retrieved, feel as though it could've been released the next day. Existing in a state of both eternal dusk and dawn, Crow and Smith pull off a beautiful balancing act between light and dark, always shifting things here and there so that neither aspect is too dominant. This allows the album to take on whatever characteristics the listener needs it too, readily providing a bit of melancholy to turn to when things are down, or hopeful warmth to keep you riding high, all within the same song.
Information Retrieved is the sort of album you want to listen to with headphones on, so as to make sure not to miss a single pluck of the guitar string or tap of the snare drum. In the five years since 2007’s Autumn of the Seraphs, California duo Zach Smith and Rob Crow have developed a tightly controlled, almost minimalist collection of songs that remains singularly Pinback while sounding unlike much of their previous work. Whereas Seraphs found Pinback often moving through their math-rock motions at a moderate clip and even playing with punky energy on tracks like “From Nothing to Nowhere,” Information Retrieved is in no hurry.
Pinback takes Ecclesiastes to heart: for core members Zach Smith (Armistead Burwell Smith IV) and Rob Crow, there isn’t much new under the sun. What Pinback music was, so Pinback music shall be; forever and ever, amen. Another album of such thoroughly trademarked music would be for some bands a redundancy, but in the hands of these two, it’s a confident redoubt of identity.
Pinback is either the quietest rock band working, or the loudest pristine pop band working. Whichever it is, the fact that Rob Crow and Zach Smith derive so much muscle and power from so little reliance on volume has always been remarkable, and that amazing restraint has reached an impressive new peak on Information Retrieved. As the band’s albums get more ornate, or rather more glossy in their texturing, it’d be easy for them to fall into either toothless sheen or blaring day-glo decibels.
Pinback bring to mind clockwork: Individually, Rob Crow's guitar and the accompanying drum machines and live percussionists are crisp and sucked dry of reverb, precisely ticking like second hands. Collectively, Crow and bassist Armistead Burwell Smith IV don't overlap so much as interlock like gears and cogs, all doing their part in establishing a consistent momentum. It's also true in the larger, metaphysical sense that you can "set your watch" to Pinback.
If Pinback had released one record and split up, they’d probably have a minor cult following praying for a reunion. What they do is unique and entertaining, and it’s not immediately clear why they sound so distinctive; they’re not trying hard to be clever, which is refreshing. But now they’re on album five, and showing almost no signs of building upon their aesthetics.
Consistency can be a double edged sword. Some will extol it as a virtue, a workman's approach to one's craft, refining and improving a specific template, sound or set of ideas. Others will decry it, arguing it exhibits a lack of imagination, a refusal to take risks, at worst equating it with stagnation and lack of growth. It's a term that has oft been levelled at Pinback throughout their 13 year career – predominately as praise, but occasionally with disdain.
It’s as though you’re hearing it for the first time. This phrase can easily be applied to Information Retrieved, the fifth album from California’s own Pinback. However, in most cases, this description serves as a compliment to an adventurous album with too many details to fully take in without repeated listens. A sample here, a lyric there, a dig in the background, an extra cymbal crash buried deep in the mix.
Californian duo’s first LP for five years is a downbeat delight. Mischa Pearlman 2012 Zach Smith and Rob Crow don’t like rushing things. This is their fifth album since the pair formed Pinback in 1998, and their first full-length record for five years. Clocking in at 38 minutes, that equates to approximately 7.6 minutes of Information Retrieved being written each year over the last half decade.
This is Pinback’s fifth album in fifteen years. Which if you’re an optimist suggests Rob Crow and Zach Smith, the San Diego based duo at the core of the band, are the kind of people who like to take their time. And, if you’re a pessimist, marks them down as the worst kind of slackers; the kind of sluggards that make first year archaeology students look assiduous.They say a pessimist is never disappointed.