Once in a blue moon a record will pass through heavy music circles that is anything but. Nimble, elusive, soothing and hypnotic, with When Friends Die in Accidents, Pinch Hitter have released something truly unique. Spectacular in its instrumental intricacies and heavily affecting in its tragic song writing, this record almost appears to communicate on a musical wavelength that, while initially unfamiliar and confusing, is without much convincing needed at all, enchanting and dare we say, extraordinary.
‘Part I’ the first of four parts on the record offers us something immediately atmospheric, fragile and engaging. These songs are commanded by a hollowed out and expansive piano addition, and an attention to instrumental detail that is a grand thing to behold. Pinch Hitter have made a calculated decision to leave the recording and production mostly bare and thin, preferring an organic, no frills approach that could expose their abilities as well as their faults.
Pinch Hitter are at the outset, two boys wielding banjos, however it’s quickly apparent that they are much more. ‘Nine To Five’ ushers the banjo into its first major performance, offering a cozy, plucky twang as a temperamental melody coasting along the baseline of the track, and joined at random by some disembodied clapping and shimmer of wind chimes.
The ambiguous, formless verses that feature on ‘So Much for the Road’ and ‘Body Clocks,’ are made all the more difficult to follow by the impulsive and scratchy banjo tunes, the light patter of drum sticks on wood, and a muffled set of vocal ramblings. In fact, on tracks like ‘All of a Sudden’ It seems as if each instrument has its own, distinctive movement: drifting, waving, and coasting along, as if in opposition to the quick, nimble banjo melodies that are ever present on this record. Nevertheless, these instrumental quirks seem congregate into an approach that is both sparse and minimalistic.
As lyrical content goes, the boys in Pinch Hitter are unwittingly political. ‘They Said This Would Stop’ rejects the daily haul of the 9-5, in a style that comes across as being intentionally dispassionate, and indeed ‘Nine to Fine’ plays along similar, anti-capitalist lines. Mostly though, When Friends Die In Accidents provides a catalogue of songs that are effortlessly simplistic and moving.
‘Part II’ picks up where ‘Part I’ left off, reinforcing a vocal performance that is hypnotic. ‘Body Clocks’might appear to offer a lighter mood, however, there are many points on the record, this being one of them, where the banjos’ own buoyancy initiates a deceiving sense of composure. Nevertheless, as one of the most affecting tracks on the record, ‘All of a Sudden’ engages in the experiences of trauma and catastrophe that momentarily undermines the false cheery way of the banjo.
When Friends Die in Accidents concludes with the lengthy, Part I no one is complaining. In fact, the only thing there is to complain about with When Friends Die In Accidents, is that the album begs to be longer, perhaps more grandiose. The record is a prelude to future releases, which suggest an expansion of things only touched on, on this record. For Pinch Hitter, the potential is endless.