In Praise of Folly Means/Ends

Written by 15th century theologian Desiderius Erasmus, In Praise of Folly is a work of satire that takes to task the rigidity of Catholicism. Sharing that same moniker is Seattle’s own IPOF who, despite their name, have thankfully not crafted a nine-part indie rock interpretation of the Erasmus book. Their second album Means/Ends may be ponderous enough in its own right — it features central themes like faith and death, and songs with titles like "Affluenza.” The early signs are encouraging, as the first quarter of the LP finds IPOF plying unorthodox song structures, ever-changing time signatures and math rock agility into dizzying disorientation. "Empiricism,” one of the pinnacles of Means/Ends, is a worthy example of IPOF at their best, capped by a stop/start/shout chorus that hits with all the force of a midnight freight train. But this ain’t some joyous Don Caballero reunion. For one thing, the plentiful freshman year ruminations ("Is everything relative/Is truth only what you decide?”) are certified buzz kills. And for every dissonant riff and urgent thrill, there’s an overly extravagant string part or lacklustre acoustic ditty. That isn’t to say IPOF are clueless or can’t hack it; they clearly have the compositional chops to make it work. Rather, Means/Ends seems to be the product of the tentative uncertainty of a developing band still trying to find their musical identity. (Lujo)