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ALBUM REVIEW | Modern String Band

Punch Brothers, ‘Who’s Feeling Young Now?’

Danny Clinch

The Punch Brothers continue to sport a classic bluegrass instrumental lineup on their third album, "Who's Feeling Young Now?,'' and that continues to be about as close to bluegrass as they get. Elements of that music, typically in a progressive vein, do show up occasionally, and the band sounds almost conventionally so on, of all things, a cover of a polska by Swedish group Väsen. Elsewhere, though, their affinity for piling in rock, jazz, pop, and classical sounds and for simultaneously obscure and smile-inducing lyrics (the tongue-in-cheek irreverence of “This Girl,’’ for example) is still unabated. “Movement and Location,’’ a ball of syncopation, shifting tempos, and Chris Thile’s mannered, arresting tenor, builds on a chamber music and gypsy jazz foundation. The title track is a power-chorded rock song wrapped in string band clothing, and a cover of Radiohead’s “Kid A’’ an instrumental, acoustic transposing of that song’s electronica. Various classic pop shades show up, too, in the silly fun of “Patchwork Girlfriend’’ and the ebullient sound of “Don’t Get Married Without Me.’’ With all of that going on, disjointedness and pretension are twin possibilities, but the Punch Brothers avoid both pitfalls; what results is always interesting, and sometimes spectacular. (Out tomorrow)


ESSENTIAL “Movement and Location’’

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