Despite featuring their third pair of guitarists in as many albums (Love Agenda's Page Hamilton
departed to form Helmet
), Band of Susans
deliver their most assured, accessible album. The guitars operate as interlocking pieces of a larger puzzle, while bassist Susan Stenger
floats below, providing structure without being chained to the beat. The sound alternates between haunting and crushing, and the guitars are finally consistently corralled into the dramatic service of the song. The clean, nearly reverb-less guitar sound leaves plenty of room to hear the guitars' idiosyncratic directions while maintaining a nearly opaque wall of sound. Most rewarding are the moments when the band breaks loose from their throbbing chords to deliver a crunchy punch to the solar plexus, such as on "Plot Twist" and "Silver Lining." Mostly, though, the effect is of rich lattices of guitar and intermingling swells, lifting and propelling the songs through an omnipresent guitar drone. Bassist Stenger
's throaty vocals add a moody counterpoint to the guitars' pitched screech and anchor the album's opening two tracks, not incidentally two of the better compositions on the disc. The album closes with a nod to Robert Poss
' mentor, Rhys Chatham, with a cover of Chatham's hypnotic, slow-building fugue "Guitar Trio."