Pain is Pleasure with itsnotyouitsme

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While no one can accuse Caleb Burhans and Grey McMurray (otherwise known as itsnotyouitsme) of suffering a shortage of smarts, the pair boasts an uncanny and adroit ability to strip music of its over-intellectualization and bring it back to atmospheric and ambient basics. The duo’s first two albums—2008’s Walled Gardens and 2010’s Fallen Monuments—blanketed the listener in carefully constructed minimalism that went down like a strong mulled wine.

Their predilection for provocative titles doesn’t end with "Everybody’s Pain is Magnificent," however itsnotyouitsme’s third studio album does represent a diversion from their previous two releases. Things move slower in this world, with repetition that joins forces between acoustic J.S. Bach and electric John Luther Adams and a pace that in other hands can indicate funeral processions but here flows with the grace of a deliberate vinyasa. Words We Weren’t Allowed to Say is a Vermeer-like work of medieval tendencies blended with shoe-gazing impulses; Glowing Embers, Pillared Palaces is a brisk yet balmy nocturne.

While the album turns toward a graceful melancholia (see: And This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things), there is a sense of renewal, shining through notably in "It Might Be Time to Leave This Place and Go Mingle with Our Heroes," that leaves you feeling uplifted at the end—before you inevitably hit “repeat.”