Since Before Inertia

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Taking a more gently and typically "indie rock" approach for this release, on Since Before Inertia Brooks and his version of Minmae du jour call to mind such fine folks as the Verlaines, Ashtray Boy, and the Wedding Present -- not bad company to be in, to say the least. Brooks here sings in a generally calmer, more reflective way throughout and, while there's plenty of energy in the arrangements, the goal here is to softly seduce rather than overload with feedback and drive. Where there are more open elements of noise, like the squalling guitars and more upfront drums on "I Won't Hold It Against You," the mix is murky enough to make everything seem like a shoegaze band playing Built to Spill from one room over. His singing and lyrical approach remain obscure -- buried low in the mix, what he's saying is usually hard to catch -- but the effect, whether in low or higher register, suits the music admirably. Such songs as "Dumbfinder" betray his longstanding love for chugging Velvet Underground/motorik rhythms, while the additional vocals (both male and female) add to the sweet bliss present. Another winner sure to please the hearts of those who like their guitars warm, electric, and blissed out is the wonderful "Spring Tragedy," an instrumental that feels so inviting and embracing it's like floating in sound -- an example of Brooks' Flying Saucer Attack influence come to perfect life. There's a fun twist on the "unlisted bonus track" convention at the end -- a giddy instrumental that sounds like a dance club in Cairo crashed by tape abusers and drone-loop maniacs.

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