Its as though youre hearing it for the first time.
This phrase can easily be applied to Information Retrieved, the fifth album from Californias 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. Unfortunately, every listen to Pinbacks latest record is so forgettable due to its insistence on treading familiar ground track after track that you may as well have never heard it at all.
Information Retrieveds production is set to Linkin Park, minus Mike Shinoda rapping, plus subdued Chester Bennington, which is evident early on in the bro-worthy track Sherman. With its generic piano/keyboard notes and lifeless vocals, courtesy of Rob Crow, you half expect to hear Crawling in my skin by the time the chorus arrives, but instead we get Im afraid that your face might drift into the forest. Piano drives the slow-tempo Drawstring and Diminished, with the latter calling to mind The Beta Bands Hot Shots II album. Crow and multi-instrumentalist Zach Smith are too content with building off others brands to do anything too adventurous, whether they realize it or not.
The album has a couple of moments worth recalling. Opening track Proceed to Memory reflects guitar, bass, and vocals off one another, with beats both electronic and man-made providing the undercurrent. At the songs conclusion, studio magic delivers a four-part harmony with passionate vocals by Crow. Theres a fire throughout the song that most of Information Retrieved lacks, as though someone threw a towel over the remainder of the proceedings to stop it from spreading. His Phase is a Sting vocal away from being featured on some alternate timelines Synchronicity, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Andy Summers was credited for guitar on the song. Wearing the heart on the sleeve works well here for Pinback; the song has a picked-up beat much of the remaining record lacks.
After such pleasantries, the inevitable listing of brutal truths must now come. Exhibit A brings us True North, a track that retreats to that laid-back vibe that possesses/terrorizes tracks like Sherman. Its refrain of This is the number/ Please look it over/ Everything else is/ Just a distracter is sure to call any seashell-necklace-wearing crowd out of a drunken stupor with its phoned-in string arrangement. Exhibit B is Glide, which buries its guitar beneath Phil Collins-by-way-of-311 production (the mind boggles), lacking any bite with its lackluster riff. To Pinbacks credit, they’re able to create a full-band sound with only two players at the helm, but when that sound is limited to a line that goes from Point A to Point B (or track one to track 10) with little to no change, that hard work tends to go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Pinbacks cultish fan base has swelled over the past five years, mounting with anticipation for a new full-length release, and maybe the devoted will be satisfied. Its easier for the hardcore supporters to swallow what theyve been fed when it isnt up to snuff. Apart from a couple positive notices, nothing here matches the creative flourishes painted on the bands previous album, Autumn of the Seraphs. Remember Blue Harvest, with its occasional guitar bursts and energy — the verse/ chorus/ harmonies bleeding into each other? All Information Retrieved provides is leaking creative inertia.
Essential Tracks: Proceed to Memory, His Phase