Maybe they're called Disappears because they move so fast: after releasing their first two albums, Lux and Guider, within a year of each other, the Chicago-based band proves once again they're all about motion and momentum with Pre Language. Arriving just over a year after Guider, this is the first Disappears album recorded with Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley, who joined the group when founding drummer Graeme Gibson departed. That's not the only change: over the course of the album, the band channels the same dynamic thrust that made Guider rocket from speakers into tight, focused songs that zoom close to the ground and explode in dazzling blasts. Tracks such as the driving album opener "Replicate" and the surly, minor-key title track suggest a more advanced take on the muscular post-punk Disappears introduced on Lux, and overall there's an emphasis on clarity and precision instead of sheer volume; "Minor Patterns"' guitars switch between razor-sharp stabs and a surf-inspired chug. Fittingly, perhaps, the album's angles evoke Sonic Youth, especially on the impressionistic "Fear of Darkness," but never in an obvious way. Rather, it feels like a part of just how fully Disappears exploit the push-pull between their deadpan veneer and the power they pack. This volatility makes Pre Language truly thrilling, whether it's the way Brian Case makes brightness sound ominous on the serpentine "All Gone White" or the supernova solo on "Hibernation Sickness." As before, Disappears' interplay is seamless. While Shelley may not stand out, he fits in with the rest of the band perfectly, particularly on "Love Drug," one of the best showcases for their masterful way with tension and release. While Pre Language has only a handful of expansive excursions, they're among the the album's finest -- and most polarized -- moments. "Joa" rides a bouncy, insistent rhythm for nearly six minutes, driving it into the ground as bad attitude radiates from Case's vocals and menacing guitars. Meanwhile, the relatively lighthearted "Brother Joilene" closes the album with the aural equivalent of cracking a smile. Pre Language is some of Disappears' most confident, most accessible music yet.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares