Owls, ‘Two’ (Polyvinyl)
Reunions aren’t often inspired by 13-year-old one-off projects, but Chicago’s Owls — whose self-titled 2001 LP was its only release until now — is back with a new album, titled, naturally, “Two.”
On the debut, the quartet, centered around brothers Mike and Tim Kinsella — of the groups American Football and Joan of Arc, respectively — updated the frenzied Midwestern emo of their first band, Cap’n Jazz, into a complex yet catchy math-pop balancing act.
The nearly identical artwork and production values on “Two,” out Tuesday, suggest that Owls is picking up where it left off, but the songwriting doesn’t. Peaking early with the mantra-like “Four Works of Art…” and “I’m Surprised…” (listen), the 40-minute set soon lapses into discord.
Some of the blame must be shouldered by Tim Kinsella, whose shaky voice and non-sequitur lyrics offer little for the uninitiated to latch onto — and not even guitarist Victor Villareal’s acrobatic, American Primitive-styled leads can account for material that, however well-played, just isn’t much fun.
The titles of all 10 tracks on “Two” end with ellipses, befitting their wayward, tentative nature. For Kinsella super-fans only…