They Mean Us
Pinback is a band that’s never quite as breathtaking as it should be. But over three albums, especially 2004’s superb Summer in Abandon, the band has surely found its steadfast following. For some reason other bands of similar ilk (Death Cab, for one) have enjoyed much greater attention. Maybe someday Pinback will pay the bills. But for now it seems that Rob Crow is content to fool around and just have fun no matter no matter who listens. Take Goblin Cock, the heavy metal spin-off that released the astounding Bagged and Gagged last year to no fanfare. And now there is They Mean Us, a noise-pop collaboration with Hella drummer Zach Hill under the name The Ladies. It shifts from short ambient noise freakouts to songs that rank amongst some of the sharpest Crow has written under any guise. Most Pinback fans will zero in on tracks like “Vacation, Asphyxia, Vacation” or “Non-threatening” because they are tonally and structurally familiar. But it is stuff like “So Much For The Fourth Wall” with its heavy riff juxtaposed against Crow’s melodic tenor or the epic 12-minute closer “Mandatory Freak-Out” that really stand out. Most of these tracks would feel at home on any Pinback album were it not for Hill’s frenetic drumming, which propels the music beyond any borders of rhythmic sanity. He’s at times a transformative force, like when he completely buries the sweet opening melody on “Nice Chaps, Buddy” in an onslaught of counter-punctual mayhem. Success be damned, so long as Rob Crow keeps searching and delivering albums like this.