Tuesday 28 May 2013

The Pale Faces - Another Such Strange Bird

Album review by kev@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk

Noisy garage? Primal post-punk? You might think that Leicester trio The Pale Faces care little for production or getting every aspect of their music note perfect. In reality it could easily be argued that this trio are incredibly careful to get the right sound, it's more a case that the sound they're after is a lo-fi, DIY one. The Pale Faces aren't aiming for Wembley arena, they're aiming for the hearts of music fans who like what they listen to to be real and have genuine passion and a genuine care for what the end product turns out like. With new album 'Another Such Strange Bird' they've not just hit the back of the net, they've drilled it right into the top corner.

If you're not au fait with this musical approach then this album may seem homemade (which it probably was) and maybe even a little amateurish (and that's a possibility too, I doubt any of the band have a CV that reads like Paul McCartney's), but what you might realise after a few spins is that the pop hidden in these songs gradually breaks free of what may be perceived as the restrains of the seemingly primitive approach to recording. If you're already a fan of punk, of indie ethics, of raw sounds and a harsher approach, them dive straight in, the water's lovely. The Pale Faces pick what they like from '60s garage and girl groups, Patti Smith, the first wave of post-punk, C86 and the modern lo-fi movement; then they give it a slap in the face.

Why piss about trying to be John Bonham when The Velvet Underground and The White Stripes both knew that smacking out a primitive beat works just as well? Why be note perfect on the guitar when the music of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai is so vacuous? Why push shiny acrobatic vocals to the fore when The X Factor winners are all so dull? At the top of the page here we have our little motto: "Music For The Other". That could have been made for The Pale Faces. Following the clatter of 'Girl From The Past' they smash straight into 'O Mummy O Daddy' which is dirty garage-rock doused in organ and set alight; the mic is at breaking point. Either that or the vocalist's throat; probably both. And now the album has lift-off.

'Eat You Alive' shows a more experimental approach. We're buggered if we know what instrument takes the lead, but the thudding beats and the haunting vocals are straight from the darkest depths that Siouxsie and the Banshees ever explored; blues guitar is introduced on the '60s trash of 'No Kisses Blues', it's something like Janis Joplin as reimagined by The Cramps. The Shangri-Las' grotesque sisters take over for the twisted girl-pop of 'Sweet & Sour Sixteen', a style which reappears on 'Soul Connection'. There's a mid-album interval on 'Island' where the din stops for a slow and atmospheric dreamscape. A slightly bleak one admittedly, but a brief time-out nonetheless. Then it's bass-heavy post-punk mixed with garage for 'A Thing Called Man' with its almost Neanderthal view of life. The final two tracks are the sludgy 'Dark Lips' with it's screamed ending, and lastly the noisy-heavy blast of 'Black Swan' which is them in a nutshell. Pale Faces maybe, but 'Another Such Strange Bird' is a colourful album.

The Pale Faces' website

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