Imaginary Baseball League, Cardiact (What A Waste Recordings)

The greatest accomplishment of Murfreesboro’s Imaginary Baseball League is the way each song on their new EP Cardiact wholly absorbs the listener. Even at four and five minutes, no song feels as long as it really is. It is a testament to the band’s clever arrangements that nothing sounds repetitive.

Even a song like “Nuclear Winter” that contains the recognizable elements of verse, chorus, and guitar lead delivers each with such effortless melody that everything sounds fresh. Such careful arrangements assure the five songs here stand up to many repeats.

The most refreshing aspect of Imaginary Baseball League is the fact that they do not fit into any sub-genre of indie rock. They slink between emo’s broken-hearts, alt-country’s distinctive languid tempos, and pop’s melodic hooks.

The opener, “A Lot To Say,” unfolds slowly with clean, clear guitar arpeggios before building on uneven drums and fuzzy guitar to a hypnotic climax and feedback-soaked end.

“Needs” bobs along with an alt-country feel but ends before sinking into conventional verse-chorus redundancy. Like all their tunes, the textures and instrumentation push the song out of any genre limitations.

If there is a debt IBL owe musically, it is to Radiohead’s brilliant analysis of detached post-modern angst, OK Computer. Beyond musical nods, though, the similarity ends. IBL are distinctly warmer and more personal than the Oxford quintet. In this respect, IBL find themselves in company with Wilco — similarly deconstructing pop music formulas while retaining an American soul.

It gets less surprising to discover great bands in Middle Tennessee flouting preconceived notions of what a “Southern” band — or even “indie” band — should sound like, but it doesn’t become any less welcome. Imaginary Baseball League are easily one of the craftiest bands to come out of Murfreesboro and should soon be mentioned in context with other local pioneers like Lambchop and Venus Hum.