Wise men say it’s not stealing if it’s from your friends. In that constantly expanding micro-universe of bands gratefully snaking Sonic Youth’s sonic steez, few, if any, share such close proximity to indie rock’s legendary noise-tamers as Tall Firs do. Having already recorded a self-titled album in Thurston Moore’s studio—which Moore would release on his very own Ecstatic Peace! imprint in 2006—the Brooklyn three-piece goes a few steps deeper: Frontman Aaron Mullan pays his bills working as SY’s guitar tech.
While clearly sharing guitar DNA with his employers, Mullan and Dave Mies, his fellow Fir of nearly 20 years (you read that right), eschew building moats of racket in favor of spelunking great caverns of ultra-melodic dirge. Ditching the acoustic accoutrement of their Ecstatic Peace! debut, Too Old to Die Young is a fully plugged-in affair that expands on the muscular sighs of its predecessor and ups the rhythmic ante. Bubbling over with slow burners as gut-wrenching (“Warriors”) as they are portentous or arduous at times (“Good Intentions”), the crux of the affair is but lunar dust in contrast to the album’s opener. Perhaps shooting their wad a touch early, the trio fashion what could be their only legitimate anthem in “So Messed Up,” a thorny example of the outfit showing off its considerable strengths—Mies and Mullan using each caterwauling riff and bony guitarpeggio as a telephone to their twenties. And although it smacks occasionally of you-know-who, it’s worth repeating: You’re not really stealing if you helped tune the shit all those years. It’s just osmosis.
Tall Firs play Rehab April 5, clubmidway.com.