I feel like everybody, myself included, seriously underrated Mates of States' last record, Rearrange Us. For my money, on reflection it surpasses Yo La Tengo's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out as a portrait of a failing relationship: at least as poignant and a whole lot tighter. And like YLT, the Mates are still mates, which is also kind of poignant. So I'm reluctant to say too much critical about the new MoS record, which mostly splits the difference between the more frenetic earlier records (though with more synth and outside instrumentation and less organ) and the solid, precise pop of Rearrange Us. I'm a sucker for blatant retro workouts like "Sway", which sounds like something straight out of a John Hughes movie. And I can't but appreciate a band so dedicated to digging out and offering up hooks, particularly on ebullient anthems like lead off track and single "Palomino". Yet, for all the whooping and harmonizing, nothing on the record really grabs me, and the continuing theme of relationship angst pales after the considerably more brutal stuff on the last record, making Mountaintops feel a little forced and artificial in places. I continue to really like this band, but Mountaintops hasn't totally won me over, at least not yet.