Album Reviews

Pinback – Information Retrieved

on October 18, 2012, 7:58am
Pinback - Information Retrieved F
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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. Unfortunately, every listen to Pinback’s 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 Retrieved’s 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 “I’m 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 Band’s 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 song’s conclusion, studio magic delivers a four-part harmony with passionate vocals by Crow. There’s 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 timeline’s 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 Pinback’s 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.

Pinback’s 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. It’s easier for the hardcore supporters to swallow what they’ve been fed when it isn’t up to snuff. Apart from a couple positive notices, nothing here matches the creative flourishes painted on the band’s 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”

13 comments

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Scott
March 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Couldn’t agree with you more. The album totally has the intense grinding pulse of (1996 era) Metalica, the lyrical sensibilities of Blood Hound Gang, but with just a kiss of KISS. You spot on, man. Great set of ear balls you go there!

Boogaloo
March 13, 2013 at 1:04 am

Did you honestly refer to Pinback and the festering pit of audible garbage known as Linkin Park in the same thought? Hang yourself ASAP.

darchand
March 4, 2013 at 11:52 am

just heard this band for the first time after seeing the album in Wire mag. not sure what this reviewer was smoking.. can’t they just LISTEN to something without comparing it to everything else? i really like it. they have a unique sound, beautiful tone, some smart lyrics, mostly strong songs. I’d give it 3.5 stars.

gahry
January 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm

This review is not even close to accurate, better stick with those linkin park reviews or anything that does not involve creativity.

Sandusky4lyfe
October 31, 2012 at 2:29 am

What an odd review. Linkin Park? Really? It seems more like a pointed attack than an unbiased review. This album is great if you like Pinback. Disregard this toolbag reviewer and pick up this album.

krampus_claus
October 25, 2012 at 6:08 pm

311? Phil Collins? Linkin Park? Beta Band? Aren’t music reviewers supposed to be able to make creative and apt comparisons? This review reads like something out of a highschool newspaper. 0/5 stars for dropping this turd, Gerber.

Dumpadilly
October 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I regret that I ever read this ignorant review. Zero stars for Justin Gerber.

K_Sharkie
October 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm

the most unbelievable part of this review is that he compares Pinback to Linkin Park and the Beta Band!!?!?!?! Seriously, wtf? That is a million miles beyond ludicrous. It would be like giving a Bob Marley album a bad review b/c it sounds too much like UB40. Epic fail.

Reviewer, if you’re reading this, go see Pinback live… and then run back here and beg the editors to remove this abomination.

Varus
October 24, 2012 at 2:28 am

Yeah, this review is just bad.

Kuroranj
October 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Uh, maybe you should try a few more spins. I would have agreed with you but their usual hooks are a bit subtler on this trip and need the extra time to cultivate.

Wylie
October 22, 2012 at 11:13 pm

You gave this 1.5 stars? Really?? It’s not their best but it is certainly better than the vast majority of stuff being put out lately.

Infret
October 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Of all of their songs you chose to allude to Blue Harvest?! You have very little understanding of the sound they are trying to create. Disagree to the Nth degree.

paradoxical
October 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm

couldn’t disagree more with this review. it’s a really solid album. might take repeated listens to pick up some of the nuances (headphones help), and if you don’t “get” pinback, then maybe not for you….. but if you dig this band, you will absolutely not be disappointed. i just hope these guys pick up the pace a bit now. even if they start putting out some EPs again (check out “some voices” and/or “offcell”,both unbelievably good) – another 5 year wait for more recordings is not acceptable!

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