Dan Friel and B.J. Warshaw of Brooklyn's Parts & Labor are known for wearing their punk influences on their sleeves, but both 2006's Stay Afraid and last year's Mapmaker contained elements that suggested the band was outgrowing its hardcore-rooted noise-rock. With Receivers, the diffusion and redirection of those influences has yielded an expansive, deep, sophisticated album. After replacing extremely aggressive drummer Christopher Weingarten with the jazz-influenced Joseph Wong, Friel and Warshaw are now able to compose longer, slower songs in which their big, open vocal melodies, long compared to Hüsker Dü, start to sound almost like folk music. The band's tendency to push against key signatures intensifies the effect; the driving, anthemic "Nowheres Nigh" even pulls off the dreaded whole-step modulation. Parts & Labor has sacrificed the immediacy of Mapmaker's blasting noise, but the noise is still there, just reconfigured into throbs and swirls that underly the album's full, flowing melodies. When it swells to a climax, as on "Prefix Free" and "Solemn Show World," it's all the more powerful for the time put into the build. Friel and Warshaw's lyrics, meanwhile, assemble pieces of the political impressionism the two borrowed from the Minutemen into oblique yet moving puzzles of modernity. Because of its complexity and subtlety, Receivers demands significant investment. The returns, however, make a unique and powerfully rewarding rock experience.
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