If you can get past the name – and you must work to get past the name – Columbia Quartet Nachos after sex makes smart and soulful indie rock worth getting lost in.
The group’s recent album, “Grandpa Slinks”, is a dynamic set, which includes 8 songs in approximately 28 minutes. The material lands at many points along a spectrum between anthemic heroes The Killers and distant marvels The Strokes – with feints towards Vampire Weekend and modern synth-pop thrown in for good measure.
A dynamic sense of momentum drives this set forward; drummer Hunter Pendleton and bassist Chase Mueller form a well-tuned two-man drum machine, giving the sound a spin feel. Guitar tones from lead player Mitch Broddon and vocalist Sammy Elfanbaum propel the material further, grabbing something higher, just out of reach.
This dynamic is immediately evident on the opening track “Runnin’ Away”. Melodious, imploring guitar and synth lines work in tandem, gliding over Pendleton’s quivering drums. Elfanbaum launches the record with a resounding “Hello”, followed by the greeting with a wistful admission – “It’s been a while since I last called.”
The singer’s voice stands out, containing just the right amount of world-weariness and childlike charm to captivate. Later, Broddon’s solo augments the song with a touch of arena-rock fireworks.
A dynamic synth line and spacious groove keep Elfanbaum moving, alternating between swagger and heartache on “Come a Little Closer”; instrumental twists and Mueller’s nimble bassline show the band’s mastery with funk. The guitars on “Holdin’ On To You” approximate what the Strokes might sound like if they truly embraced happiness.
The band shows first-class rhythmic phrasing on “Nothing’s Gonna Change” while the keyboard parts owe a debt to bands like Tame Impala and progressive bands of decades past. The synths of “You Got Me Fallin'” take this vibe a step further, leaning across a boundary between Washed Out and Neon Indian territories.
Late in the set, “Tinder” mixes a reflection on modern love with a sentiment that leans toward timelessness. Elfanbaum confesses to a number of trial and error online, all cheap substitutes for the one he’s been pining for.
He delivers an age-old speech, hands raised in romantic frustration: “What am I supposed to do? / I wanna get closer to you.” A neo-choral coda ends the song with painterly sonic swirls.
Closest album “Matea” is here the closest thing to a ballad, starting with a plaintive piano and voice. The song eventually approaches a feverish plea, with Elfanbaum playing and swapping lines with other singers to create a wistful texture. The last minute of the song recalls Vampire Weekend’s most mature and developed work; Elfanbaum’s timbre often resembles Ezra Koenig and the vocal arrangement builds from this vocal color.
“Grandpa Slinks” is as stacked as an 8-song set; there are no weak tracks to cross, no momentary lapses in musical judgment. Post Sex Nachos knows how to create a mood, then move through that mood to find degrees of nuance and sentiment. It’s a group that both has its influences and confidently seeks to separate itself from