[MINIMAL ROCK] A lot has changed since 2002. New president. Oklahoma City has a pro basketball team. Osama bin Laden? Totes dead. Another thing that's changed in the 10 years since Pellet Gun last put out an album? Pellet Gun's sound. A decade ago, the trio of Dave Snider, Brian Gardiner and Eric Jensen released Every Time I Yawn I Cry a Little, a record of knotty, mostly mid-tempo and sometimes expansive indie rock in the Built to Spill vein. Since the band got back together after doing time in other well-regarded projects—including Tractor Operator and Federale—its sophomore effort, Great Divide, is a wilder, woollier, more angular beast. It's also leaner: Most of the songs here clock in at under three minutes. In some ways, it sounds like the work of a much younger band. So don't call it a reunion. Call it a reinvigoration.
The album opens with "All Your Hearts," a loud-quiet-loud rocker in the Pixies mold, and the elements of Pellet Gun's attack come into clearer focus on Great Divide's second song, "Feed a Dead Egg." Jensen's fractured guitar snakes around Snider's fluid, propulsive bass and Gardiner's solid drumming, with someone's voice—all three members share vocal duties—sneering, sinisterly, "It's gonna be the best spring break ever!" "Knapsack" is even better, riding a great, slightly surf-flecked riff. Various reference points are scattered across the 11 songs: "Heavy Eastern Slopes," sporting a metallic stomp and the heaviest guitars on the album, is damn near in Sabbath territory; the instrumental "Billy's Lament" is tight, jagged and Wire-y; "Ovulate," with tumbling drums and hyper-trebly guitar, resembles the Minutemen; and the closing "Held the Hand" has the slow-burn atmosphere of one of Quasi's quieter dissolves. Even though the band wears its influences proudly, it filters them through a prism that's still distinctly that of Pellet Gun. Hopefully the band sticks around a while this time.
SEE IT: Pellet Gun plays the Know, 2026 NE Alberta St., 473-8729, on Saturday, May 5, with Shallow Seas and Old Kingdom. 8 pm. $5 cover. 21+.