Mainstream post-rock was meant to be an onward-looking style, but Special Others are here to remind the world that this music actually shares a common ideology with jazz and, to a lesser extent, surf and early psychedelia. All of these styles are trying to break out from the verse-chorus scheme and explore some less hackneyed melodies and song structures, usually in an instrumental form, so as not to be distracted from the music by words; Special Others manage to pull off this trick while combining the best of both worlds -- they stick to the old tricks, but use them to create a new sound that's retro and fresh at the same time. The first minutes of PB may indeed sound like a Keith Jarrett exercise or a trip to the '40s: the band uses the typical jazzy percussion -- they don't stray from 4/4, but keep they things busy -- the bass is wandering all over the place, and the airy clean guitars and vintage synths intertwine in a nostalgic way. However, the coffee house jazz vibe recedes by the time Special Others are through with the first of their many melodic adventures: the group is too focused for a jam band, and no matter how complex the playing is (never too complex, actually), the goal is melody, not exploration of the higher realms of jazz math. This makes PB a positive, dynamic, and catchy record, closer to Stereolab and Mercury Program than Explosions in the Sky -- if the latter mimics the ocean with ebbs and flows and the occasional tsunami, Special Others are more like a river: not much change in speed, but a lot of interesting places to be hit along the way. Sprawling but not meandering, PB does sometimes sound retro, but never obsolete, and has its own face that's really more worth checking out than the millionth Mogwai wannabe.
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AllMusic Review by Alexey Eremenko