Breakthroughs in Modern Art is not only Six Gallery's first full-length album -- it is also their first recording since the addition of lead singer Daniel J. Francis in 2008. The two EPs they released before Francis came on board were totally instrumental, although the transition from instrumentalists to vocal-oriented act hasn't radically changed their sound -- which still owes a lot to math rock, post-rock, and art rock. But while many recordings that fall into the math rock category or at least have some type of math rock influence aren't exactly known for their beauty, Breakthroughs in Modern Art does -- in its own cerebral, angular way -- have an ethereal quality. Harshness isn't part of the equation on this 40-minute CD, which first came out in 2009 and was re-released by Superball Music in March 2010; these Ohio residents are striving for melodic and harmonic beauty even if it is an abstract, impressionistic sort of beauty. That isn't to say that Six Gallery ever go out of their way to be accessible either musically or lyrically. "Smile Like a Switch," "Edie and the Marble Faun," and other tracks don't adhere to a standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus format, and many of Six Gallery's complex lyrics can be open to different interpretations. Breakthroughs in Modern Art is definitely the type of album that needs to be accepted on its own left-of-center terms. Nonetheless, Six Gallery's cerebral outlook serves them well on the vocal tunes that dominate Breakthroughs in Modern Art as well as on the instrumental "Fish Milk," which gives listeners a taste of what the Midwesterners sounded like pre-Francis. For those who aren't frightened away by complexity, Breakthroughs in Modern Art has a lot to offer.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson