Trading soft harmonies and counter-melodies like two broad-winged birds gliding in smooth, complex circles over a soundscape as trim and tasteful as a suburban housing tract, Rob Crow and Armistead Burwell Smith IV (aka Zach) mastered the rarefied art of easy-listening math rock on last year's Summer in Abaddon
. Many fanzine raves have pointed out that "Abaddon" is an obscure biblical term for "hell" or "bottomless pit," and Spin
even suggests that the partners' vocals circle like vultures over carrion, but for all the music's harmless vagueness, they might as well be seagulls hunting for garden-party leftovers. ("Who knows what the guy is talking about?" says Zach about Rob's lyrics in a recent interview in Slap
magazine). In fact, in this latest incarnation of the seven-year-old band (which fills out to a five-piece live), these all-purpose emo-offspring make a great transition on mix CDs between sharper bands from the Postal Service to Modest Mouse -- or, for that matter, between semi-obscure brethren like Imogen Heap and A.C. Newman, which is where they landed on Music From the O.C.: Mix 4
. Could have worked on the Garden State
soundtrack too, or any other aural training bra for the Starbucks set of the future.