‘The Way Out’ a welcome new chapter for The Books

By Merritt Wuchina

The Books

The Way Out

Grade: A

Rocks Like: A collage of color for your ears… The Books

The Way Out

Grade: A

Rocks Like: A collage of color for your ears

Although it’s been five years since its last full-length album, The Books has yet again successfully combined the yin and yang of music — pop and the avant-garde.

Although the duo’s production might seem bizarre — most of the lyrics consist of samples from thrift store cassettes accompanied by percussion instruments made of children’s toys — The Books manages to create music that captures nostalgia and reflects something profound about the way we live, without needing to say much at all.

The first track, “Group Autogenics I,” introduces the album’s reappearing new-age theme by sampling hypnotherapy tapes. The quotes resemble what your yoga instructor might say at the end of class — kind of corny but innocently optimistic.

The song “Beautiful People” uses harmonies based on an old Danish hymn and is backed by a beat from a 1970s French exercise video. It is also one of the four songs that is sung — rather than sampled — by Nick Zammuto. The lyrics are based off his favorite irrational number, the 12th root of two, which represents the mathematical relationship between musical notes. Who knew math could sound so cool?

But members of The Books are not just math geeks — they have a humorous side too. The song “I Didn’t Know That” has a playful funk bass and is accompanied by a hilarious golfing video that can be found online. “A Cold Freezin’ Night” uses cassette samples recorded by children on the 1990’s toy, Talkboy, showing how outrageous kids can be when left alone with a microphone.

“Group Autogenics II” ends the album with a calming voice — “And it feels so good, so relaxed, and so at ease / you’re becoming the world and everyone in it” — leaving listeners a bit more enlightened than they were 50 minutes earlier.