"Nowheres Nigh" by Parts & Labor
The first two tracks on Parts & Labor's latest should put to rest any worries about how the departure of drummer Christopher Weingarten might affect the band's collective intensity: There'll be no stronger opening salvo on any album this year than the one-two punch of "Satellites" and "Nowheres Nigh." Wisely, the band doesn't seek to replicate the aesthetic of last year's Mapmaker, a record propelled largely by Weingarten's explosive drumming. Instead, Receivers finds the band slowing down the tempo and more fully exploring the textures and nuances of its dense, multi-layered soundscapes. The approach leads directly toward more accessible songwriting and musical populism: Receivers comes off like a collection of folk songs for the post-industrial age, complete with lyrics about machines that no longer produce, but only serve to keep a constant watch. Strangely, such a realization proves liberating for Parts & Labor. If you're being watched all the time, the band seems to ask, why not make something both beautiful and inspiring?