The In Out

Il Dito & Other Gestures (EJ-46)

"On the back cover of the In Out’s latest album, these three guys look genuinely bored as they pose in a beat-up, post-college apartment; their record sounds classically lo-fi, with vocals that could have been taped from a payphone. Even their name is contemptuously, lazily vulgar. That air of cool detachment drives everything that’s great about this record: it rocks but doesn’t show off, and it’s so direly fashion-unconscious that no matter how many jittery rhythms and caustic lyrics they deploy, they’re never trendy about their post-punk leanings. Il Dito and Other Gestures ("il dito" is Italian for "the finger") is the In Out’s fourth full-length; it follows a stretch where the band shrank to a trio, switched labels, played only intermittent local gigs-- oh, and toured Europe with Sebadoh. But in spite of all the transitions, the new line-up already sounds taut and engrossing.

Singer and guitarist Todd Nudelman doesn’t have an immediately striking voice: slightly nasal and not at all powerful, his cool delivery covers a confident, masculine charisma. It may be a cheap shot to compare them to The Fall, but you can hear a likeness in Nudelman’s implied sneer and indifferently articulate lyrics, criticizing hedonism or commanding us to “auscultate” him. But he also flashes a sense of humor when he role-plays through “In Pursuit of You”, an almost cheeseball Afghanistan spy drama: “I tried you on the phone/ The lines had all been cut/ By me-- I forgot!/ It was me!” shouted while the band feverishly plows ahead.

As a guitarist he plays it just as cool, ripping off the occasional solo but mainly locking in with the rhythm section. Bassist Andy Abrahamson and new drummer Eric Boomhower are brutally fast together, from the drilling repetition of “Trapped Body (Auscultate Me)” to the patter they keep up right under convoluted lyrics like “hedonism haunts our quality time.” But then they slow down the pace: Abrahamson’s basslines own several tracks, aiding the casual swagger of “Sense and Withdrawal” and the mesmerizing, near-droning pace of “The Turning”. He makes guest singer Ilona Virostek sound that much huskier, and he’s the foil for Nudelman’s cool reserve.

It can take a few listens to appreciate how wide-ranging the songs are, skittering through one, then playing glowing keyboards on an old blues cover. Everything hangs together; unlike their hipper contemporaries, the In Out spend more time nailing the material than getting in your face. The band will probably do nothing to promote the album-- they probably won’t tour your home town or college campus-- but this is one of the tightest, freshest, truly Underground releases so far this year."

-Chris Dahlen, Pitchfork

MP3: "Sell You Phones"

The In Out website

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