It’s a bit of an understatement to say that Endless Column’s debut album has been a long time coming. The garage-y jangle-pop band formed in 2010, after Doug Burns, vocalist and guitarist for the Portland band Red Dons, moved to Chicago and began collaborating with David Wolf, vocalist and guitarist for Daylight Robbery. The group, rounded out by Eric Watts on drums and Kevin Goggin on bass, recorded Endless Column four years ago, but you’d never know that by listening to it. Crisp and urgent, Endless Column is full of electric-shock power, channeled through thundering surf-rock (“Senses”), jangly power-pop (“Facedown”), and rumbling, messy post-punk (the Magazine-esque “Tic for Tac”).
Appropriately enough, Endless Column‘s anxious lyrics match the music’s tightly wound tone, focused mostly on the struggle to keep your head above water in the face of crushing insecurities. “Just when you thought things looked all right / You find yourself looking in the mirror,” Burns sings on the crashing mod-punk “Mirror.” Other times, survival is harder to achieve. On the breathlessly hurtling “Debts,” Burns sings, “I’ve been waiting for the dam to break / Giant waves wash me away.” Sometimes, the anxiety is free-floating: “I feel so out of touch and out of time / I’m feeling useless and terrified,” Burns frets on the jeweled ’60s psych-pop number “Catching Up.” On that song, though, relief is within reach: “We’re catching up to the other side.” What they’ll find there is still a question; but even if the grass isn’t greener, Endless Column is a portrait of a band willing to confront the dark side head-on.