Although So Many Dynamos recently recorded their third album with Death Cab for Cutie guitarist/keyboardist Chris Walla, the well-respected studio producer/engineer had almost-embarrassingly glowing praise for the quartet's 2006 sophomore effort, Flashlights
. "It's an album in the way that nobody makes albums anymore," Walla says. "It's cohesive and the writing is really good. All the through-lines both melodically and lyrically are really strong." Not to mention hard-to-categorize: Recorded by local expert Chris Deckard at Radio Penny studios, Flashlights
mashes together disparate styles with glee, making it nearly impossible to reduce the band's sound to one genre. (Close approximations might include surrealistic metal-punk, danceable prog-rock or intricately arranged math-rock.) Most important, the hooks on Flashlights
worm into your ears like a rabid tick, making the album compulsively listenable even after many spins. "There are so many technically minded bands that are so obtuse and antisocial," Walla says. "The records they make don't want to be your friend, necessarily. But the Dynamos are really exceptional at making technical, bizarre music that's still somehow really inviting. The hippie-aura energy around the record it wants you to like it."