Hooks by the books

Californian twosome Pinback delivers the same old story with the same great sound.

Haily Gostas

Perhaps there’s something to be said for bands that show no sign of veering off toward unexpected crossroads.

And really, if you were responsible for some of the most intricately and expertly woven indie rock of the 2000s, why would you bother to expand on or retreat much from a proven equation?

San Diego’s Pinback prefers to keep their curveball-throwing down to a science, disguising any such surprises as a slight flutter of piano keys or sudden swirl of vocal harmonies, then tucking them beneath elaborately crafted pop songs that make even the twists and turns seem like necessary additions to already-solid songs.

As to be expected, this sort of approach drifts through their fourth full-length album “Autumn of the Seraphs,” but there’s not much to pick on Pinback for. How could you? They’re so gentle, and yet so remarkably self-assured, confident in their brand of tightly structured pop-rock with all its angelically sung verse and similar-but-soaring seesaw rhythms.

There’s no point in hounding a band for leaving out something (experimental electronic drone, death-metal sludge, hip-hop interludes) they never really embraced from the beginning. 2004’s “Summer In Abaddon” fully realized the sounds Pinback had been perfecting for almost six years, proving them masters of the great front-to-back listen. “Autumn of the Seraphs” is merely a continuing exercise in it, work that remains relentlessly pleasing and never without ideas – even if they are many of the same ones.

The evidence lies in the corners of new songs like “Good to Sea” or “Blue Harvest,” which ever-so-slightly stretch the band’s old standbys of skeletal guitar picking and steady robot-heart beeps by layering little random details that somehow fit perfectly into the delicately precise framework that keeps their songs afloat.

A surface listen of “Autumn of the Seraphs” reveals a whole lot of those lovely tones, and it wouldn’t be wrong to find it just as uniformly gorgeous and sophisticated as any prior Pinback record.

The magic is uncovered in the act of consecutive listen, however – hear any one of these tracks a number of times and find that each one brings something different, however small that something might sound. It’s an album that sounds much like the ones before it, but it’s still packed tight and precise with a familiar charm not to be denied or unsatisfied with. You can’t keep a good formula down.