The Portland-based 31 Knots signed to Polyvinyl after a long stint with Michigan label 54°40' or Fight! and released a humdinger of an album entitled Talk Like Blood. The anti-power trio of Joe Haege, Jay Pellicci, and Jay Winebrenner eschew the well-worn path of similarly instrumented combos with taught arrangements tempered by jubilant abandon. They have a touch of the Police's rhythmic sense (evident in the crack, twin-Jay rhythm section of Pellicci and Winebrenner), a bit of Devo's angularity (in Haege's off-kilter synth excursions), and -- especially on the song "Impromptu Disproving" -- an aggressive yet polished onslaught reminiscent of Washington, D.C.'s Dismemberment Plan. The boys sound more like a "live" band here than they have in the past, forgoing the cut-and-paste song construction techniques of their earlier releases in favor of more fully realized and long developing melodic lines. The tighter-than-tight starts and stops that lead many to labeling them as math rock sound less showy here and carry Haege's intricate wordplay (through its various levels of enigmatic disclosure) to a new level of immediacy. Despite the taught execution, Talk Like Blood maintains an air of spontaneity and a sense of fun throughout its 11 tracks, and hammers home the fact that 31 Knots have the ability to transcend the limitations of the classic power trio by forgetting that they are a trio in the first place.
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AllMusic Review by J. Scott McClintock