The term "indie rock" may be more of an industry description than a musical one, but it tends to mean that the artist plays music for something of a specialty audience. The Austin, TX, band 1986 may be an indie rock group technically in that they record for the independent label Palentine Records, but they make music with mainstream potential. This is only their second album, the follow-up to 2006's Nihilism Is Nothing to Worry About, and it has taken nearly four years because 1986's principals, singer/songwriter/guitarist Giorgio Angelini and drummer Cully Symington, have been making ends meet touring with other bands. (Both have performed with the Rosebuds and Bishop Allen; Symington has also gone out with Cursive, the Gutter Twins, and Okkervil River.) The work seems to have honed their chops. Symington is a powerful drummer, and Angelini is a master of power chords whose vocals alternately recall Ray Davies, when he's singing out in the tenor range, and Lou Reed, when he's speak-singing in deadpan style. (Since the last album, Drew Pennebaker has been demoted from group member to guest musician, playing bass only on "Habits," while keyboard player Bill Elm has been promoted to co-equal status with Angelini and Symington.) The result is some cohesive playing on a batch of engaging hard rock songs. Really, there isn't anything here that couldn't compete with, say, Foo Fighters on rock radio, which is to say that 1986's music has the potential to be much more than "indie rock." The band makes a point of giving "special thanks to the 324 people who bought our last record." Now, if each of those people told ten of their friends, maybe this band might be on the way to reaching the audience they deserve.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann