Released in 2018, the self-titled debut album from the Messthetics walked a winding path between indie rock and experimental music, which made sense given the group's line-up -- avant-garde guitarist Anthony Pirog teamed with the former rhythm section from Fugazi, bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty. The Messthetics was recorded not long after the band was formed, and the follow-up, 2019's Anthropocosmic Nest, came after the band had toured extensively, honing their music in a way they hadn't had the chance to do prior to their debut. As a consequence, Anthropocosmic Nest pushes the trio's boundaries on all sides. The harder-rocking tracks like "Drop Foot," "Better Wings," and "La Lontra" have significantly more punch this time. The relatively contemplative pieces like "Pacifica" and "Because the Mountain Says So" show a greater willingness to explore their space and move at their own pace. "Touch Earth Touch Sky" and "The Assignment" reveal they have no fear of venturing into an atonal no man's land in search of the note. And "Pay Dust" boasts a jazzy swing that pushes the music within throwing distance of hard bop. The three musicians seemed comfortable working together on the first album, but on Anthropocosmic Nest they've created a greater shared language and the conversation is richer, more potent, and more deeply rewarding. There was no question Joe Lally and Brendan Canty were a superior rhythm section before they formed this group, but they're even more in tune with Pirog here, with nimble improvisational skills and an eagerness to move beyond the limitations of the backbeat (though their backbeat is still killer). And Pirog's imagination is just as strong as his technique; whether he's tossing out a flurry of notes at light speed or inviting the spirit in using a more languid structure, the music feels great throughout. Anthropocosmic Nest is a must for anyone with a taste for music that's smart, challenging, and exciting, and it's a step up from their impressive first effort.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming