This New York brother-and-sister team was apparently fed the same chemically laced milk growing up, as the music on "Gallowsbird's Bark" is in a sonic language that's familiar, but ultimately inscrutable. Various blues-based signifiers show up here and there (the riveting riff that holds down "I'm Gonna Run," for instance), and the fist-heavy piano playing that bangs up against the frenzied guitar work is as barrelhouse as it is avant-garde, making for a dizzying meta-rock deconstruction. Eleanor (who plays guitar and sings most of the songs) and Matthew Friedberger (who plays piano and beats up a synthesizer) write songs that seem arch and angular at first blush, but ultimately turn out to be heartfelt and warm. It's like classic rock as interpreted by English majors, making you wonder if these two are raw and retarded or smart and sassy. The answer is yes.
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