Pinback are a somewhat obscure San Diego band who I’ve only really recently discovered, despite doing what they do really quite well for the better part of the last 15 years. They’re one of those bands who not many people know of, sadly, as further delving into their back catalogue reveals they are really deserving of a little more notoriety.
Comprised of two core members, the prolific Armistead Burwell Smith IV (Zach) and the inexhaustible Rob Crow, the band began in 1998 when the guys took a break from their various other projects (3 Mile Pilot for Zach and Thingy and Heavy Vegetable for Rob). The band’s moniker is a reference to a character in the film Dark Star, directed by John Carpenter, and audio samples from this film are used frequently in the band’s early works.
The track I’ve posted here, “Clemenceau”, is lifted from 2006’s ‘Nautical Antiques’, a collection of outtakes, B-sides and rarities from the early years of Pinback’s career. As the band have openly opined many of these tracks are “half-done” and that they “fell through the cracks” of lowly tour EPs, yet the sound here is so cohesive that Nautical Antiques avoids seeming scattershot.
Although it may seem like gentle pop music at first encounter, primarily traversing the pace between loping and plodding, it’s been likened to sober concentration-music at stoner-rock tempos. Songs are buoyant and lively at times, melancholy and dark at others, resonating with an underlying intensity. Mathy, yet soothing, its strangely intoxicating and enveloping. Pinback lay out beautiful melodies that are deceptively complex, layering sounds and instruments upon one another and trading contrasting vocal parts, hinting that here we have a band who seem to revel in the notion of seeming both soft and yielding, yet seductive all the same.
As one supporter observes ‘people who dig Pinback are like a secret society of ambient jam loving ballers.’ In short, those who can appreciate the nuances of lo-fi anemic grooves and clockwork beauty will certainly enjoy the indie/ post-punk aesthetic that Pinback often encapsulates with era-specific dignity.