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April 11th, 2007 Michael Byrne | Music Stories
 

31Knots, The Days and Nights of Everything Anywhere (Polyvinyl)

31Knots gets fancy on its latest, but doesn't lose the point.

     
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[PROG PUNK] It would have been incredibly easy for 31Knots to wreck its fourth album with conceptual/experimental grandiosity. Though The Days and Nights of Everything Anywhere—in the immediate, anyhow—is a fairly standard prog punk album, it's also littered throughout with odd, vaguely creepy samples of little-kid choirs, noise, ambient breaks and other seeming sideshows. Add to that some fairly heavy, sometimes inscrutable biblical-themed lyricism (À la "The devil has come for all the details") and we've got a potential mess of pretense on our hands—or maybe just a mess.

But the mess never materializes. Somehow, the big electro thumps that lead into the record's opening track, "Beauty," segue precisely into a second intro of driving piano without ever copping to being a red herring. It's an awesomely odd structural trick that feels like dropping down three differently colored steps on the same staircase. When you finally hit the landing below, the song—a furious, racing scuff on vanity—pounds through its four minutes in trad verse-chorus-verse structure, and every transition cuts like the edge of a broken mirror.

"Hit List Shakes (Inconvenience of You)" likewise starts with odd sounds (something like cranking party favors) that are later joined by an organ; together, they make transitional step-ups between increasingly aggressive verses. Each one builds in a different way—teasing toward some heavy rock-out shit that doesn't come until the end—and the steps' discordant combination makes the song seem as if it's briefly set in reverse.

On the album's likely hit, the aggro/catchy "Man Become Me," the Portland/San Francisco trio drops the flourishes, but not the gleeful deconstruction. Again, it's verse-chorus-verse, but the two simply fuse together by the song's climax. Loudly. Every verse punches just slightly harder (you can feel vocalist Joe Haege's flying droplets of spittle and scorched vocal chords here more than anywhere) until finally rallying into a wail-along you should probably practice before your next 31Knots show. The crowd on the album was recorded last summer at the Doug Fir, and its enthusiastic wail-along is enough to tell us that 31Knots, beyond the flourishes, is still a ferocious, populist and incredibly intelligent punk band at heart.


31Knots celebrates the release of The Days and Nights of Everything Anywhere Saturday, April 14, with the Joggers and Wet Confetti. 9 pm. $8 advance, $10 day of show. 21+.
 
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