Kind of Like Spitting w/Hint Hint
Sat Aug 3,
Chop Suey.

w/Jen Wood, Amy Blashke
Mon Aug 5,
Paradox, $5, all ages.

I love nothing more than hearing a band change its sound from record to record, and, conversely, I hate nothing more than when I hear someone say that so-and-so's new record isn't any good because it doesn't sound enough like the last one. The high volume of musicians with an inability to progress is exactly why my office is stacked waist-high with mainstream crap and why bands find themselves in debt when only a year before they were traveling the globe in highfalutin style. Locally, 764-HERO's albums differ radically from one to the next, as did Love As Laughter's; and it's a crime that Harvey Danger's second album tanked, because it was just as good as the single-chart-blazing first one, just totally different.

Kind of Like Spitting is essentially Portland native Ben Barnett's baby, and over the years he's gone from acoustic singer/songwriter guy hell-bent on falling in love, to guy with a full electric band who is still confounded by all things romantic but wants to vent a little more vociferously about it, back to acoustic guy only with better production values. Now Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla chime in on what is the most forceful album of Barnett's career.

As the name suggests, Kind of Like Spitting's Bridges Worth Burning (Barsuk) finds the songwriter battle-scarred but not broken. Barnett's still trying to understand his ever-elusive muse, but he definitely learned some hard lessons that stuck. He's developed the ability to dip his toes in and test out the emotional current rather than blindly cannonballing into potentially turgid pools of dumb-ass, told-ya-so torment.

Lines like "Till a good one leaves the continent/you just can't write words to send" ("Continent") stand out because the literal logic of the sentiment is superceded by the fact that no one can make that realization any earlier than life will allow them to. And that's exactly the point of this record. More than anything, Bridges Worth Burning sounds like a life in progress, informed by experience and bracing for what is to come.

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