On their 1999 Fire in the City of Automatons (Time Bomb), San Diego math-rock specialists No Knife gave an appropriate nod in the direction of Mission of Burma by recycling the MoB song title as "Academy Flight Song." Their fourth album finds the quartet continuing to hone their Burma-esque combination of corrosive guitar riffs, impassioned vocals, and taut, muscular backbeats. Sharp dynamic shifts add explosiveness to every track, from the guitar hailstorms of "Permanent for Now" to the sneering Buzzcocks-style harmonies of "Swinging Lovers" to the ominous silences wedged between the slash-and-burn guitars of "Parting Shot." "Brush Off," with its Jimmy Eat World–style vocal hooks and tunefully spiraling guitar riffs, stands out as the most commercial track here. Equally impressive, though, is the murky instrumental "May I Call You Doll?", which trades harsh edges for trembling, ghostly chords, proving that No Knife can match dynamic precision with emotional complexity.
(No Knife open for Cursive at the Somerville (Mass.) Theatre on Monday March 24. Call 617-864-EAST.)