"Night of My Death" starts off like a Sufjan Stevens ballad -- lovely horns and falsetto winsomeness mix with acoustic guitars, an unlikely beginning for this Chicago post-punk band more associated with Les Savy Fav than the Elephant 6 spirit. This melts into "Skyscraper," an epic guitar ballad not unlike a Sunny Day Real Estate torch burner with its emo-style whisper screams. Lovely bells hint below of the band's melodic drive. Ian Menard's wounded vocal delivery, a cross between Spoon's Britt Daniel and Jeff Tweedy, especially on the album's standout guitar pop tracks "Pill Cake" and "Ricochet." It is in this first half of the album that the band, guilty of getting a little too near idols Les Savy Fav, break ground as mature songwriters.
From "Vanish of Vanquish" on comes the less well-formed songs, using the same telephone vocals and post-hardcore-inflected guitar crunch as their label owners. The gloom of "Roots Rock," with sludgy guitar riffs, gives way to Blood Brothers-style hardcore screamo on "Genivive the Countess," made sweet by a slow-picked jangle chorus. It's almost like two completely different records, made to please the rock and pop halves of the brain equally while putting to rest the imitator label at least in part. Worth mentioning also is the band's crayon cover and album art -- a board game whose penny-pieces are to move according to the CD's play when set on random, a childlike nod to John Cage maybe?