3 out of 5
Produced by: Jason Ward (recorded by)
Rhythm of Black Lines shoot themselves in their own foot on their debut album, Set A Summery Table: they start off with some of their best tracks, displaying the most perfect match-up of math-y post-rock and Texas indie pluckings on the opener, then present their occasional vocal-led, tip-toeing ebb and flow on the followup title track. What follows is precise and pleasant, but wandering in comparison, retreating mostly to that Texas style (Paul Newman; anyone on SGL records), and only rarely getting back to the compositional intensity of how things started. With a flip-flopped sequence, this could very much work – closer Black Like Figs has a solid underlying stomp that gives it a nice, unique pulse that could’ve also worked as an intro, and the gang vocals that punctuate Jeep Jackson’s end are very fun, they just need to be surrounded by something that highlights that, instead of being preceded by a very winding, sedate bit of playing, then following track Preferred Customer a 4-minute, vaguely electronic bit of burble, leading to the hush of Thee Python. Because ROBL’s core sound is particular (it is that Texas thing – peppy, singular note playing, spun off of the harsher Chicago post-rock sound – but the band meshes it further with a kind of jazzy improv vibe and speed that’s incredibly memorable), the album is never far from an interesting moment, or toe-tapping bit of precise playing, but again, the sequencing messes with fully appreciating that.
On the other hand, those opening two songs are so strong, you’ll put this disc in the keeper pile, regardless of what follows.