The shiny, polished familiarity of Chicago math pop group Their / They're / There on their self-titled debut EP might have something to do with their pedigreed lineup. The trio is made up of scene luminaries Evan Thomas Weiss of Into It. Over It. and Pet Symmetry, Matthew Frank of Loose Lips Sink Ships, and Mike Kinsella, a member of the family tree that gave us Owls, Joan of Arc, Cap'n Jazz, and American Football, not to mention his solo acoustic songs under the Owen name. While this bunch is clearly creative to the point of it being difficult to keep track of its output, the six tunes here seem like the focused distillation of the best and most clearly presented ideas of their separate musical personalities. Kinsella's frenetic drumming is flawlessly paired with Frank's sputtering guitar style, bringing to mind the rhythmic and melodic interplay of Owls or Make Believe, but never stepping into the completely unhinged territory of those bands. Weiss' melodic vocals and overlapping harmonies keep the songs mostly rooted in the melancholic pop style of late-'90s/early 2000s emo rock, with the wordy melodrama of "Fit Your Life Into a Grid" calling to mind the better-produced moments of Elliot or the Promise Ring. Weiss' melodies and darkly nostalgic lyrics owe a debt to Canadian poetic rockers the Weakerthans and their singer John K. Sampson's uniquely straightforward delivery of deceptively complex themes. The intricate song structures, proggy time changes, and out-of-nowhere production shifts temper the more traditional elements of the songwriting, keeping the band from ever fitting into a pre-existing emo throwback mold. Instead, Their / They're / There spend the EP untangling a brilliant fusion of their various styles, pulling the raw materials out of their past bands and re-arranging the elements into something spontaneous and visceral while still having a deeply controlled catchiness.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas