All the way back in 2015, it looked like indie rock had lost one of the good ones when Rob Crow of Pinback—facing the possible foreclosure of his home—announced that making music had become an unrewarding financial strain on his family and he was calling it quits. It was certainly a sad sign of the times for the industry, but at least Crow had a brisk ascent from that low point: By the end of the year, not only did negotiations with the bank and his wife’s new job solve some of the money problems and save the house, but he also quit drinking and lost about 100 pounds. He had rapidly become, in many ways, a new version of himself.
Musically, as well. Ending his short-lived recording hiatus, Crow assembled a band of his closest friends and headed into the studio with a trove of entirely self-written material—a first in his long career. The result, You’re Doomed. Be Nice., sounds like how Crow must have felt: revitalized, fresh, and eager.
Meticulously constructed and eclectic in tone and style, the record never strays too far afield from the progressive alt-pop Crow has been crafting since Pinback. Songs such as “Business Interruptus” expectedly trade in signature math-rock jitters and cascading harmonies, but the track soars into a catchy wordless chorus, revealing a shift to the straightforward. Moving through the urgently pounding refrains of “Paper Doll Parts” and “No Shadow Left Behind,” it’s clear the play for accessibility is no accident. This is an album that wants to be heard.
It’s also an album that wants to be listened to. In alluding to Crow’s recent personal struggles, these lyrics are more introspective than what fans will be used to, and while he’s never been a stranger to disillusionment, his dour musings here are particularly biting. On You’re Doomed. Be Nice., Crow speaks with the urgency of a person who doesn’t know how much longer he’ll have an audience. Given the strength of the record’s songwriting and execution, however, that hopefully won’t be an issue.