Pinback members Rob Crow and Armistead Burwell Smith IV (aka Zach) like to explore paradoxes in their music. Their 2004 release, Summer in Abaddon, was acclaimed for its heavenly melodies and textures rather than anything hellish sounding, as the term Abaddon would suggest. Pinback’s newest release, Autumn of the Seraphs, is a fully realized vision of a similar sort of paradox. While every track on the new album floats and flits about in ethereal clouds amongst the angels, there’s a melancholy undertone, an invisible but saturating presence of the unavoidable force that must bring everything to an end, a constant and strangely seductive reminder that eventually everyone must lay down to sleep—even the angels themselves.
The songs are beautiful and sweet, indie guitar rock at its best. At moments the music moves into funk-like grooves or hard rock riff mode, but just when it seems to be crescendoing into the sort of exultant or ecstatic rock hook we’ve all heard so much, the song pulls back into itself and the listener is once again washed over by lethargic undertones. The signature tracks, “Barnes” and “Devil You Know,” are expertly constructed to navigate the listener between emotions of ecstasy and wistfulness, as if we’re bobbing up and down in the heavens, at one moment bathed in glorious sunlight, and at the next sinking into the warm embrace of billowing dark clouds. The entire album is a wonderful journey, even though—like all things—it eventually must come to an end.