Few strains of indie give off as much of a boys-club vibe as math rock. So one of the more immediate pleasures of Avec's music is the band's unique pairing of knotty, intricate arrangements with a female voice, particularly one as seductively idiosyncratic as Shawna Potter's. Avec's other singer/guitarist, Brooks Harlan, would be a perfectly good frontman for the band without Potter, but the songs where he sings lead pale in comparison to the dramatic flair that she lends the material.
Lines is Avec's second proper full-length, not counting Potter and Harlan's pared-down detour on their 2006 album under the name AVECduet. Back with the quartet lineup, Lines benefits from producer J. Robbins' ample experience in making good bands sound great on an indie budget. Meanwhile, the album finds Avec more proggy than ever, with Potter filling her lyrics with more scientific jargon than Neil Peart's, and complex arrangements that sometimes obscure her way around a killer hook. "Man in Space" completely changes tempo and direction after a start-stop moment at its halfway point, while the album's most memorable melody is spread across two mostly instrumental tracks buried toward the end, "Yavengia" and "Ageyeva." But even when playing hard to get with its music's more accessible elements, Avec has created a taut, dark web of riffs and rhythms that becomes more compelling each time you explore it.