Somewhere, in a leafy suburb in Ciudad Madero, Tamaulipas, a man with Wayfarer sunglasses and a ridiculous ponytail is opening a beer with his old but reliable Nokia phone. You know the ones, the little bricks that could fit in the palm of your hand and had a LED lamp that looked tiny but was powerful enough to help you out of a tight spot. This guy’s had the same phone for 7, 8 years and it has survived a lot of close calls with the trash (and a brick wall).
He couldn’t find it in his heart to sell it or give it away. This phone is as much a part of himself as the two missing molars in his jaw or that permanent scar in his eyebrow when he met the business end of a Zenith tv in the 80s.
The beer’s cracked open, and the guy gets out of his messenger bag his newest acquisition. It’s Pinback‘s Information Retrieved. After a 5 year drought, the band’s back in action. A wry, knowing smile draws on his face. He remembers the first time he had to explain the band to a neophyte and he simply remarked “as warm as American Analog Set playing in your living room, with a bit more cajun pepper for extra flavour”.
Might be a weird comparison, but he is always lost for words when they matter most…The CD starts doing pirouettes inside the stereo and ‘Proceed to Memory’ starts. Breezy, fresh and easy going, it fills his ears with an optimism that sometimes seems missing from music (and that sly synth line in the back makes it such a swell treat).
‘Glide’. Hey, maybe the comparison with The Legend from Austin (TM) isn’t that off? Those little riffs, the poignant chord progressions. The track oozes with charisma not unlike the one required by a door to door salesman to survive in these times, the Era of Amazon.com. ‘Glide’ and its companion pieces, ‘His Phase’ and ‘A request’, are the three extremes that Pinback will be jumping back and forth from in this album. Those vertices, like the ones in a Piper Diagram, will give you an inkling of what their quintessential sound is.
And maybe that sound is the sound of another beer cracking open and then a gust of tropical wind cooling you down. ‘Diminished’, the darkest moment in the album, feels like a moment of introspection. The neighborhood goes quiet, the cacophony of cicadas quiets down and for a moment, just a moment, the unforgiving sun is covered by a lonely cloud, with a strange shape that you can never make up but you will remember. If you forget, though, ‘Denslow, you idiot!’ will remind you of the magic touch Pinback has. Lightning strikes more than once in the same place.
The man finishes his beer and grabs his messenger bag again. A notebook, full of scribblings no one would need to read to understand his madness. A well-worn copy of Hunter S. Thompson‘s On the campaign trail ’72. A DVD copy of Elizabethtown. He takes the DVD out of the bag and says: “Thank you, Cameron Crowe, for introducing me to Pinback“. He gently puts back the DVD back in, starts the engine and drives down the Carretera Federal 80 towards the beach, listening to ‘Diminished’ once again and looking for that cloud…
Words: Sam J. Valdés López