By now, Chris Thile's post-Nickel Creek group, The Punch Brothers, has garnered their own well deserved audience and moved out from the shadow of their predecessors. Where Nickel Creek blended bluegrass sounds with pop sensibilities, Thile's group (and it is undeniably his) tones down the pop and incorporates a variety of more complex sounds, from classical to jazz to ragtime.
This genre hopping experimentation results in an album that is less likely to appeal to the mainstream fan base of his previous band, but firmly cements the groups' status as amazing musicians. Underneath all of the variation lies intricate instrumentation that blends with modern soundscapes.
The lead track Movement and Location , is a sprawling song that is reminiscent of Coldplay, as is the ballad Soon or Never . No Concern of Yours is the sole bluegrass song, albeit one that moves at a noticeably slow pace. Patchwork Girlfriend is a fun ragtime song. The cover of Radiohead's Kid A is interesting, although not necessary. The other cover song, Flippen, is also an instrumental, although this one doesn't feel like it should be a B-side.
The album may offend bluegrass traditionalists with its refusal to stay true to the genres musical boundaries. At the same time, it is more ambitious than most newgrass albums, which tend to focus more on combining bluegrass sounds with punk energy. It isn't accurate to say that the Punch Brothers are creating a unique sound, since they are blending a variety of genres which each have a long history of their own. In the end, despite the hints of bluegrass, the album is more likely to appeal to fans of Arcade Fire than Bill Monroe.