Owls Two

Owls Two
With a complex history that requires nearly a third of all Wikipedia entries to unravel, the compressed origin of Owls' second recording after nearly fifteen years could be found in the 2010 reunion shows by Cap'n Jazz, the early '90s Chicago pre-emo group that birthed them and dozens more. Taking a break from the increasingly experimental Joan of Arc, Tim Kinsella helms the quartet that have only subtly mellowed as they approach their forties.

His untethered wordplay is buffeted by the twin serpentine of Victor Villareal's guitar and Sam Zurick's guitar, at times more hydra-headed argument than interplay. Tracks like "I'm Surprised…" and "The Lion…" feature the frenetic mathematics of Mike Kinsella's drum work muscling apart the clusters of guitar friction and/or supporting suddenly erupting solos.

There are moments, few and precious, where the complexities relax and suddenly songs with chords and melodies live brief lives, like time-lapse blossoms in a horticultural documentary. The rest is more than art for art's sake, and a pleasure for the ADD listener in all of us.

Read our timeline on Tim and Mike Kinsella here. (Polyvinyl)