Get our free newsletter
A series of illustrations on the rear cover of Jawbox’s new single, “Absenter/Chinese Fork Tie,” demonstrate how to smilingly stab a guy in the jugular with a fork. That’s not inappropriate to the D.C. quartet’s bristling sound, nor to the songs’obliquely savage lyrics. (“You’re marks on tiles/Piss in the flowerbed/Scabs on knees,” lilts the former, while the latter cheerily notes that “I am wide-eyed and waiting on the truth/But I’m thinking of ways to silence you.”) Such snarling sentiments aside, this between-albums slice of Jawboxian aggression does have its pop side: Nobody will mistake it for the Rembrandts, but the A-side’s simple, stretched-out refrain (“aaab-sennn-terrr”) has a soaring quality that could be judged catchy, and the B-side’s interplay between rumbling bass, scattershot percussion, and Morse-code guitar is almost as arresting. And, considering that it was recorded in Chicago, home of the corroded guitar, the sound is surprisingly clean and distinct. The single is available from the band’s own label, Desoto, at P.O. Box 60335, Washington, DC 20039.