Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Nov. 26, 2010
Aaron Sinclair draws serrated melodicism through a clenched jaw, an uneasy bitterness lingering ominously behind every utterance. In the past, Frank Smith exploited its frontman's impulses by shifting between dire alt.country and unleashed rockers, the two strains coming together nicely on 2009's Big Strike in Silver City. For the local quintet's eighth album, Sinclair's desperate ruminations remain, for the most part, subdued, which makes them more menacing. Nineteen plays like a disc cut on a late-night drunken binge of reflection and regret, the title track and "5, 10, 15, 21, 23, 32" looking back in clipped anger. Even "L.O.V.E." shrugs off solace. "Never gonna get what you want, never gonna need what you get," Sinclair moans atop a malignant bass line on "Swollen Tongue," while "Drift Away" pummels a harder headlong rush into its own oblivion. Brutal, but effective.