Stream Absolutely's Shadowy Sophomore Album, "Cannot Find"
Absolutely's glorious 2011 debut Learns to Love Mistakes was the work of a band unsettled. Cycling through punk, math-rock, grunge, emo and post-hardcore rapidly, like a ball shooting across a roulette table with no indication of which color it might land on, it was the type of record that a band can only make once, while their sound is still malleable and their direction unknown. That's a bummer, frankly, because it would be great to have a second one just like it, but bands don't work that way. People don't work that way.
In the three years since Mistakes, Absolutely's sound has settled. They've survived a lineup change, a near breakup and all the others things that systematically cause exciting young bands to prematurely fizzle out, and they've emerged from it all as a fairly classifiable math-rock band with an unabashed debt to Unwound. At first blush I can't help but be a little disappointed by that. After all, the great appeal of the band early on was that they couldn't be put in a box—they could be anything they felt like being when the moment called for it.
But Milwaukee needs a band that sounds like this, too. Nobody in the city's scene is occupying quite this niche, and the murky, moody take on these sounds that Absolutely offer on their new, long-delayed sophomore album Cannot Find is distinctive enough that they can't be dismissed as simple Unwound revivalists. A disquieting chill shadows the album, a trail of empty space that can't be filled, no matter how loud the guitars get. The Cure's early post-punk albums used to cast a similar vacant chill, and while Seventeen Seconds and Faith probably weren't direct influences on Cannot Find, the effect of all those albums is the same: They're all intriguingly unfulfilling, records that pique our interest by leaving us slightly unsatisfied. Little of Cannot Find shouts out to me the way Learns to Love Mistakes did, but I find myself returning to it nonetheless to explore its under-lit corners, to dig for secrets that may not even be there. I don't love it, but I deeply want to understand it, which is more than I can say for most records.
You can stream Cannot Find below, via Bandcamp.