The band has a complex sound without a hint of false ambition or condescension to the more noise-appreciative semi-mainstream. Influences seem to range from the melancholy-confessional such as Tim Kasher and Cursive on the achingly hypnotic "Beliefs Otherwise" and the honestly just aching "Affluenza" (the latter one of the more conventional but still electric songs the band has ever recorded) to almost glam-punk a la Be Bop Deluxe on the squealing-lead-guitar-laced "Misplaced." (The latter song is a brave and most appreciated genre-leap for the band.)
In Praise of Folly has three sonorous guitarists, Matthew Dammer, Peter Verdoes, and Benjamin Verdoes, the last fellow also handling drums and vocals. Does that listing make the vocals seem like an afterthought, which is often the case with textural art-punk metal? Banish the thought. Means/Ends features Verdoes' truly exceptional song-speak-warble style throughout, an emotional thing somehow fragile and contemplative in the middle of these rattling grandiose arias. Somehow, he can powerfully play the drums simultaneously while handling the spiritual and mendacious drama of the ontologically-based lyrics.