“Goldilocks Zone” is actually a decent phrase to describe the halfway feeling San Francisco’s Grass Widow aim for--not too sunny, not too standoffish, just a perfectly sweet yet complex middle. It's the title of the first song on the band’s new record, Internal Logic, and it's all floating harmony and underlying rhythmic tension. It immediately signals a band who’ve achieved a rare post–punk-to-pop balance. As good as 2010’s Past Time was, it ended up feeling a bit monochromatic. Its songs moved in strange directions within themselves, but became repetitive when listened to one after the other. In terms of pacing and progression, Internal Logic is better built. Pensive instrumentals appear to break up the sideways rock ditties. The sharper track-to-track distinction makes them sound really damn good.
On previous work they had an almost perverse proclivity towards overlapping and interrupting themselves, making little three-minute Robert Altman films bouncing to a bassline. In comparison, the emphatic, heavenly swells of “Under the Atmosphere” have these three women sounding like gospel-tinged 60s pop. Lyrically, they are still sort of vague and elusive, but comprehensible and much more present in the songs this time. Listening to them play as straight as they do on a something like “Disappearing Industries” is sort of tantalizing. It's got melody on top of melody, but is still apt to stall out at any moment. It’s as sweet as they’ve ever sounded, and suggests that they could take it all the way to warm hug. Then again, what’s wrong with a little mystery?