Quattracenta Credit: Courtesy the Artist

For their new second album, Baltimore postpunk trio Quattracenta teamed up with producer J. Robbins (Jawbox) and the Brokers Tip label, owned by Bob Nastanovich (Pavement, Silver Jews). Those familiar names aren’t the band’s only nods to the 90s—their sound draws on Slint and occasionally the Jesus Lizard—but II doesn’t feel pinned to any one era. That’s partly thanks to the honeyed, understated vocals of front woman and guitarist Sarah Matas; no matter how intense or dark the music gets, they provide a calming air of intrigue. On “What There Is,” which speaks to the despair felt by oppressed millions, she indicts demagogues (“When hatred is the air you breathe / The blood upon your hands stains eternally”) before the band breaks into a disjointed, downcast outro underscored by an anxious guitar pattern. Elsewhere Quattracenta add guest musicians to transform their minimal trio formation into something more lush and expansive: midway through the stirring “Bleeding Black,” they introduce soaring cello and violin that eventually run over a murky, detuned backdrop. II is the kind of music you can listen to in any mood, whether you’re grappling with something or looking to boost a high. Quattracenta accomplish so much in these six songs that you’re left wanting a half dozen more.   v