The noisy, ferociously talented band Volcano! earns its name with its explosion of song: melodies within melodies, little harmony-rich sketches that could fuel another band’s entire track.
Yet “Paperwork,” this Chicago trio’s second album, isn’t all pleasure. Volcano! has absorbed a lot from Deerhoof, another band with a killer drummer and complicated songs that sound fresh, jury-rigged and seldom overthought. And it sounds as if this band has inherited some of Deerhoof’s anti-production too: Sam Scranton’s bass drum like a tabloid headline; Aaron With’s trebly guitar and dry-sounding vocals, mixed low enough to make the words indistinct; keyboards and electronics (from Mark Cartwright) used in nontraditional ways, sudden surges of ensemble sound that push everything into the red.
Mr. With uses his guitar for jolting or lilting single-note lines, rhythm scratches and noise. His voice is what sounds like a true lead guitar, stretching words and sounds into giant melodies, even when they are just in-between parts, embellishments or passing phrases.
As a singer he’s brave and extremely musical but sometimes hard to take — histrionic and affected, with a grating falsetto. The lyrics are full of insults and petty frustrations about office drudgery, spoiled rock stars and consumerism. Sometimes they’re sung in Spanish. Once, in “Astronomer’s Ballad,” this fits the song, a kind of Mexican country waltz. A few other times it’s as unnecessary as the punctuation mark in the band’s name.