, the follow-up to the Punch Brothers' 2008 debut, Punch
, is a collaboratively written collection of songs from these "five wily, omnivorous bluegrass titans," as the Village Voice has called them, a quintet that the Washington Post, in turn, has described as "some of the best string pickers of the new generation."
The arrangements on Antifogmatic range from intimate to boisterous and back; genre-wise, the band once again ventures where no string band has ever gone before. The spare opening track "You Are" contrasts percussive guitar riffs with lyrical string parts that dance around Thile's sweet upper register as he spins a tale of romantic emancipation; occasionally, the other instruments give way to reveal the throb of the bass. The band also engages in some unexpectedly beautiful harmony singing, smoothing out the compelling melodic twists and turns of "Welcome Home." "Me and Us" and "Woman and the Bell" both have a dream-like quality; the former, in fact, was inspired by those jumbled, thought-filled moments before sleep sets in, and the instrumentation keeps pace with the ever-shifting imagery. In contrast, "Don't Need No" and "Rye Whiskey" are foot-stomping barroom boasts and"Next to the Trash" is the closest the band gets to traditional bluegrass, even as the lyrics tug the piece in a more surreal direction.