Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Those Pale Young Gents

I first heard a track from the Pale Young Gentlemen's second disc Black Forest (tra la la) all of two weeks ago and since that time, the number of reviews has exploded. This is of course not exceptional for a new album, but as I am new to PYG, I have been reading a lot of them and trying to glean some common threads in the reviews. Here are a few.

Lots of comparisons to The Decemberists (although I find the D's to be much more rock-oriented) and also to Beirut--a band I need to learn more about. Not sure these hold, but the basic point here is that you have in PYG a group of classically influenced artists playing indie music--or a group of indie musicians striving for a classical sound. I am not sure which. Part of the result is a lot of descriptions of their music as having a gypsy, eastern-European sound. Yeah, I guess--sort of. I hear it more as a string quartet who met an acoustic punk/folk rock guitar player and they decided to form a band.

The general sense is that this second album is solid with the real highlights being the upbeat tunes which strike most as more similar to their first self-released album which I read described in more than one place as "rollicking." As a result, the most common complaint is that this album has a few too many mid-tempo pieces that blend together. I agree that the up-tempo pieces are the highlights, but in part because they pop out among the others. Perhaps a couple more would create a more balanced album, but I quite like how tra la la holds together as the slower tempo tunes have their own distinct nature that you get with listening to the album a number of time. (Have I said that I like albums that change/improve with listening and that too often I find reviews feeling like someone listened once and sat down to write? I do.)

And finally, while many seem a bit fraught about this album, they all want so badly to like it as part of PYG's growing and rich oeuvre--and they want readers to like this band and hope that this is a band that has a long future. Me too. But one way or the other I suspect that however these musicians go forward, whether together for a long while or spreading out and spawning other groups, they will be playing fine music for years to come.

I am going to give you two cuts here that appear next to each other on the album. The first, a slower introspective piece that characterizes much of the album followed by the cut that seems to be the agreed upon "hit" of the album which is hard to disagree with--in fact, I don't. Enjoy.

Goldenface, Morninglight
The Crook of My Good Arm

1 comment:

Lisa B. said...

Glad to hear about people I don't know much about, so I'll be finding more of this to check out.