Trying to fill the gap left with the passing of Elliot Smith is impossible. That being said, reviewing albums that have even a trace of Smith?s signature style has proven difficult. Through no real fault of their own Hinkley have created an album of intelligent, catchy rock that, ultimately, doesn?t hold up against its influences. Aside from Smith, ?Estate Sale? bears traces of the Shins, Built to Spill, and, of course, the Beatles. With bands these hefty as a sound source Hinkley have set the bar too high and ultimately aren?t able to put enough of a signature on these songs to distinguish them from the crowd.
Standout tracks, such as ?Hanging Tree? and ?Ballerina? display Hinkley?s ability to write catchy power pop, with a dash of alt-country. The appearance of harmonica on several tracks point toward the band?s down-home roots, while Sgt. Peppers? trumpet calls add a sense of stately maturity. Hinkely spend too much time resting on their laurels however, and fail to take advantage of these interesting twists. The album?s flow is also disrupted by an awkward ?free-jazz? track plunked down in the middle of two power-pop ballads.
For fans of smart pop-rock this album may be a holdover until the next Shins album comes up. I guess I was just hoping for something a little more unique. 6/10 -- Jamie Townsend (11 September, 2006)