Do you want to write for Ink 19?

Self

Breakfast With Girls

Spongebath / Dreamworks

This, Self's third effort, has been like a big brother torturously waving a seductively wrapped piece of chocolate in front of a baby's face. With countless release dates in the rumor mill over the last two years, each greeted with an ecstatic enthusiasm from myself and others who have been touched by Self's first two records, it seemed like Breakfast With Girls was never going to show its face. Thank god it finally did, though -- it's already become one of those can't-live-without's.

   If the debut album is to be considered the "rock" album while the sophomore effort is to be their more electronic offering, then this third one has found a brilliant way of mixing the two without losing the engaging qualities of either. Matt Mahaffey, genius songwriter and main component of the band, has expertly merged his two musical worlds together to form Self's full-sounding oft-distorted guitars with the accompanying samples of everything from choruses to video games. Add the hundreds of effects coming out of Chris James's keyboards, infectious and sturdy basslines, and Mahaffey's indescribably soft-yet-powerfully-encompassing vocals, and you've got yourself an album.

   Unlike the first two, the tunes here take way more twists and turns than you'd expect from a pop-rock format. With more bridges than Madison County, song breaks and tempo changes, the average time for a song hovers around four and a half minutes and guarantees the painfully catchy melodies don't ever get old. And the lyrics are as clever, witty and bitingly inter-inquisitive as ever, driving home the points in life we all might see but cryptically injecting the irony everyone seems to miss.

    Breakfast With Girls is plainly a smart album. The craftsmanship that went into each individual note of these 13 songs comes seeping through, showcasing the occasional string section for good measure. Truly a more intricate side of Self, their basic catchy appeal and brilliant songwriting still hold steadfast and couldn't possibly disappoint even the unfamiliar listener.

Spongebath Records, 101 N. Maple St., Murfreesboro, TN 37130, www.spongebath.net

--Jason Feifer