+/- {Plus/Minus}

Jumping the Tracks

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Originally conceived in the late '90s as a solo outlet for Versus member James Baluyut, +/- stormed through the 2000s with a string of releases that quickly developed a signature sound of intricate rhythms and indie rock hooks. Though +/- quickly grew from a solo project into a fully formed touring band, things slowed down dramatically after the release of their 2008 album, Xs on Your Eyes, as the members of the band found more and more of their time going to full-time jobs and growing families. Written and recorded in the five years following that last album, the songs on Jumping the Tracks reflect the growing maturity and wisdom of the creative minds that wrote them. Not as urgent or hyper as their earliest albums, Jumping the Tracks opens with the simmering polyrhythms and slowly unfolding guitar figures of "Young Once." Eerie and melancholic, the song hovers in the air before its choruses unfold in streams of feedback and group vocals. Bounding acoustic guitars and off-time rhythms drive the emphatic "Rewrite the Story" and the band pushes into more dream pop territory with the watery guitar tones and steadfast pace of the haunting "Running the Distance." Elsewhere, "No One Can Touch You Now" is built on glorious walls of Beach Boys-inspired vocal tracks and chamber pop horn sections. Still refining the precise rhythms and tight harmonies of their past, Jumping the Tracks feels like a far more designed album than any that came before. Maybe the years passing between albums and the life events that inspire themes of growing up and taking time more seriously contribute to the glossy, manicured feel of the album. Without mellowing too deeply or becoming so serious that the songs aren't fun to listen to anymore, +/- turn in a fantastically studio-crafted album that communicates greater depth and more sophistication than any of their other work.

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