San Diego’s Pinback released their self-titled debut album in 1999. Also known as This Is a Pinback CD, it’s an album of joy and sadness, slowcore and indie rock all in one.
Two versions of Pinback were released in 1999, a US version released by Ace Fu Records and a European version released by Cutty Shark Records, which contains two extra songs. For the purpose of this review, we’ll stick with the Cutty Shark Records release.
Beauty in simplicity
Pinback’s early, signature sound kicks in immediately on opener ‘Tripoli’. Simple in structure with deep lyrics (“Sad I’m gonna die, hope it’s gonna happen later, later than I think”) the track throws you with a perfect infusion of “scratching”.
Songs ‘Hurley’, ‘Charborg’, and ‘Chaos Engine’ combine many of Pinback’s favourite things, with odd lyrics paired with sparse bass, repeating beats and cool riffs. In their own strange way, these songs are pushed to their limits while never threatening to erupt. They’re thrilling rides, only they stay within the speed limit.
Continue into the album and you meet ‘Shag’, a song that samples drums from The Shaggs song ‘Shaggs’ Own Thing (Vocal Version)’. A little trivia for you here too — Kurt Cobin cited The Shaggs album Philosophy of the World as one of his favourites. Cut then to ‘Loro’, easily one of the most relaxing songs you’ll ever hear. Running on a repeating riff, it’s a song you wouldn’t mind playing on loop for hours on end.
Check out this nice fan-made video for ‘Loro’.
Pinback picks up at the halfway mark, with ‘Crutch’ adding pace and a little variety structure-wise. The same can be said for ‘Rousseau’, a stunning track that carries with it a subtle urgency, keeping you at its mercy right ’til the end.
The final two tracks, ‘Byzantine’ and ‘Montaigne’, see Pinback return to what it is that defines their early work, these catchy, mellow songs that find beauty in simplicity. All in all, you can’t say it doesn’t work for them.
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Featured image: Pinback Bandcamp