Tim Kinsella and company have left meandering, experimental soundscapes behind for a more focused post-rock assault with their most recent incarnation, Make Believe. And focused is certainly the key word here. The group, consisting of Kinsella (vocals), his brother Nate Kinsella (drums), Bobby Burg (bass) and Sam Zurick (guitar), began as an indie rock version of Lars von Trier'sDogme 95
: No overdubs, no effects pedals, record songs as you'd play them live, and write as a band.
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Of Course isn't exactly a "fun" record. It is, however, amazingly tight and intricate, and it features the engagingly esoteric political and social commentary that we've come to expect from Tim Kinsella's lyrics. The bright (and possibly antiwar) "Pat Tillman, Emmitt Till" showcases the skronked-out guitar and bass interplay that Zurick and Burg do so well, riffs weaving in and out before converging and somehow, suddenly, making sense. The standout track, "Sometimes I See Sideways," has driving guitar riffs and a vocal refrain repeating the title over and over, making for exciting stripped-down rock. If you're looking for pretty songs with easy melodies, keep moving. If, however, the forward-thinking (and yes, slightly pretentious) minds of Kinsella and his cohorts excite you, Make Believe may quench your intellectual thirst.