Even though the band still has the line “total sonic annihilation” on their website, “Pinned” is again softer than its predecessor “Transfixion” of 2015.
As before, some tracks of the new album have been made available earlier as singles. These tracks already gave the idea that the band again took a step away from “total sonic annihilation”. The same was true in 2015, but “Transfixion” still contains some descent mayhem. Not so on “Pinned”…
The album opens with the downtempo track “Never Coming Back” that was one of the singles. It is a good song with a nice noisy middle piece. Also “Execution” reminds of older days, a minimalistic song with noisy out-of-tone guitars, but again, on an earlier album this would have been one of the soft songs. Then follows a very soft song with the “wavey” sound that the band has played with before.
The album develops towards slightly noisy tracks that are somewhat “poppy”. Most tracks are nice, but as I previously preferred older material over “Transfixion”, I think I will play “Pinned” even less.
And then comes something weird. The album lasts for only about 35 minutes (12 tracks). This is the album that is available on ‘normal’ cd. There is also a “Brainwash Machine” version which has an extra cd with 8 extra tracks and a running time of about half an hour. These two would have easily fitted on one cd to make an album with a proper length. This double cd version can only be bought as part of a box set which has thrice the price of the cd. The extra tracks are available on digital music sources though…
This cd opens with a drilling machine and guitar noise and the tracks here are more wickedly experimental and noisy. I suppose this cd is the side of the band that is (now) regarded as ‘less suitable for the general public’. It is not that here we only get the “total sonic annihilation” that we were waiting for, but there are some new style-experiments with little coherence, possibly songs that were recorded, but which the label did not find fitting for the album itself. Looking over this cd, in general the tracks are not better than on the album itself, but the more interesting material is to be found here.
A thing that I noted -by the way- is the prominent place of female vocals. Is Lia Braswell a new member or was she pushed ‘forward’ more? In any case, according to Discogs the band has had some line-up changes with four members no longer present. I have no idea if these changes are recent and perhaps explain to more ‘accessible’ (relatively speaking of course) style, but just something I noticed.
So to wrap things up. “Pinned” makes a nice album. Be sure to get the double cd when you liked the band before. Again the band seems to be drifting away from my musical preferences, so my guess is that when I feel like listening to “total sonic annihilation” I will keep going back to older albums.
Links: A Place To Bury Strangers, Dead Oceans