Chicago band The Narrator exudes a smirky sarcasm on just about every front, from the nonsensical song titles to the often-esoteric lyrics to the non sequiturs in the liner notes. Lyrics like "Last week, I turned 25 / I can't believe that I'm still alive / I am so embarrassed," especially when paired with the terminally flat vocals, practically beg for Pavement comparisons—though musically, The Narrator hews closer to Archers Of Loaf's punk-derived indie rock.
As with those bands, The Narrator's ironic sensibility could belie the heart underneath, but it's easy to pick up on the feeling in "August 32nd," "A Decade In Kentucky," and "SurfJew." There's no cheap sentiment (always a plus), and the songs rarely reveal their true intent lyrically. Musically, The Narrator has honed what is, at its core, a loose sound. The focus lies squarely on the guitars, which favor minor-key melodies and off-kilter hooks. Wall doesn't have as many all-out rockers as its 2005 predecessor, Such Triumph, but The Narrator sounds more disciplined and more interested in cohesion than rote rocking. All That To The Wall is a promising step forward—or, considering the band's uncertain future, a solid ending.