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The Grifters’ fourth long-player is filled with incantations, prayers, vignettes, and hard-drinkin’ laments, all pieced together with half-remembered chords. Like Pavement and Guided by Voices, the band deconstructs rock and pieces it back together, following its own hand-scrawled manual, which, in the Grifters’ case, is filled with sophisticated yet spare rearrangements of naggingly familiar blues and rock riffs. The songs sound as though they are about to fall apart, whether because of alcoholic despair, apathy, or calculated incompetence. While the Grifters’ second album, One Sock Missing, had an endearing, stripped-down murk that well suited its disjointed, trashy hooks, Eyes is thick and clear, its arrangements peppered with experimental touches, overt effects—even piano. The Grifters exorcise paranoia on the swampy “Covered With Flies,” tweak edgy, Flaming Lipslike pop on “Parting Shot,” and ramble over sampled strings and drums on “My Apology.” The high point of Eyes is “The Straight Time.” Wonderfully jerky, lacking anything resembling a verse, the song cleverly subverts pop until words and music collide and a cautionary mantra repeats that “fate has only one thing in mind.” It captures what the Grifters do best—unexpectedly yet quite naturally implode a traditional pop song. CP