The record is a highly textured affair that features a lot of layering and interesting ornamentation that's hard to pick on a pedestrian listen, because the Five do such of good job of melding everything together into a seamless mix. Guitar Rock is a lost artform, but Stepford Five return it to the Post-Hardcore, Pre-Grunge days of Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine, with soaring leads and a wall-of-sound glaze. And, melodically, the group seems to fall into their hooks in an almost lackadaisical manner, which make them all the more effective and intriguing. The bassist and drummer create some cool rhythmic maneuvers, slipping into sturdy syncopation at times, gliding gracefully at others. But refreshingly it doesn't draw too much attention to itself and serves the songs perfectly. While accessible, The Art of Self-Defense is the kind of smartly crafted album that might take a few listens to fully take in all the way. But the rewards are well worth the time spent. Check stepfordfive.com for more on the band.
At the Southgate House on Friday with Saving Ray and Planet 12. -- M.B.