Pinback appeals to emo kiddies and indie-rock oldsters alike: you can hear authentic heartbreak in the band’s melancholy, sculptural melodies, if you have an ear for that kind of thing, or you can take them as proof that these guys have fabulous record collections and know just what to borrow from them. Guitarist Rob Crow (Thingy, Heavy Vegetable) and six-string bassist and pianist Armistead Burwell Smith IV (Three Mile Pilot) are the chief songwriters and core members of this loosely defined San Diego ensemble. Currently touring as a five-piece, they play sublime pop that’s as dense as the most indulgent prog rock–they sometimes seem to want to be ten bands at once. Luckily they settle for pursuing just two or three influences at a time, and they choose wisely: their forte is postpunk pop, and bundled up in their tunes you can hear bits of XTC’s soaring canticles, the icy prog-dub the Police toyed with on Ghost in the Machine, and the hazy, off-kilter choruses and fuguelike intermingling of lead and backing vocals on R.E.M.’s Reckoning. The dry, restrained production on the new Summer in Abaddon (Touch and Go) might make another band’s songs feel chilly, but Pinback’s arrangements are so complex and engaging that I’m actually grateful for the somewhat formal presentation. The clarity makes it possible to sort through all the simultaneous melodies competing for my attention–though in truth I’m just as likely to end up humming one of the catchy drum parts. Earlimart and Aspects of Physics open. Sunday 11/7, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $13 in advance, $15 day of show, 18+.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Brad Miller.