Space-age and sleek, “Solid States” ain’t your father’s Posies record. Largely eschewing the blaring guitars of fan-fave “Frosting on the Beater” in favor of drum machines and synth beds, Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer still bring gorgeous melodies to the table, but the sudden loss of drummer Darius Minwalla last year has encouraged a re-configuring of what the Posies can and should be. Stringfellow in particular has made his intention of using more electronics in the Posies known for some time, and many of the songs have a similar sheen to the “Reveal”-era R.E.M. tracks that he contributed to – even Auer-led songs like “Rollercoaster Zen” and “The Destination” are tech-abetted and slinkier than their previous material. While sonically more subdued, the songs take sharp lyrical aim at targets as far flung as government-intrusion into citizens’ privacy (the caustic “Squirrel vs. Snake”) and faceless consumerist commodification (the jittery, propulsive “M Doll”).
There’s a lot to like on the album – first single, the aforementioned “Squirrel vs. Snake”, is probably the closest connective tissue to 2010’s “Blood/Candy” and sounds the most like “classic” Posies – but those looking for another “Solar Sister” or “Everybody Is a Fucking Liar” will find little comfort in the billowing and airy arrangements. The artistic branching out (especially in the face of such devastating loss, when it would have been much easier to simply retrench) is laudable, and while far from perfect (the album feels longer than its 46 minutes would suggest), “Solid States” proves that the guys still have a lot of life left in them.