12 November 2008
Pale Young Gentleman "Black Forest (Tra La La)"
Pale Young Gentlemen's sophomore album "Black Forest (Tra La La)" can be described a lot of ways, but trust me: "pulse-beating" isn't one of them. Not only have they strayed pretty far from their debut self-titled album, but it seems they have created a fair blend of trends going on through the indie scene right now (and put it into a lullaby soundtrack).
I'll say this once, but this is going to be it: I really enjoyed this album this first time I listened to it. It was new, creative, interesting, enjoyable. But after a few listens, it grew a little dull. There are definitely songs on here that caught my attention immediately (and still have it). Arguably, the best song on here is the opener "Coal/Ivory". It's folksy (a common theme throughout the album), and has simple guitar, simple drums, and some flavorful string riffs. The words are good, and the vocals are decent.
Again, a common theme for this record. The bands undoubtably spent far more time on the strings than on vocal training. The second track "I Wasn't Worried" is also great musically, but definitely lacking vocally/lyrically.
The music is good throughout the entire album, yes. But amazing? Sorry, but no. "Goldenface, Morninglight" is very slow, not as musically engaging as the first 2 tracks, and at times, sounds like an overdramatic movie score. "The Crook of My Good Arm" is a very good song; it is much different than the others, faster-paced, and the vocals are good (for a nice change). The album continues in this "I like it!" to "Please change to the next song, I'm falling asleep" pattern until its end with the creepy lullaby of "She's All Mine, I Think".
Yes, it sounds like I haven't made up my mind about this album. But it's made up, I assure you. I'm contradicting myself between songs because that is EXACTLY what this album is: a contradiction of musical talent from track to track. There is great potential in Pale Young Gentlemen to hone their knack for quivering strings and humble storytelling, (maybe one day to stand side-to-side with the likes of Arcade Fire), but "Black Forest (Tra La La)" isn't there yet. There are great tracks in there, yes, but it's just not entirely whole as the album it should be. I recommend the purchase if you enjoy slower, very (sometimes too) thoughtful lyrics, and creative string infusions. Definitely recommend purchasing the singles "Coal/Ivory" and "I Wasn't Worried". Seriously, they're good songs.
But if you're looking for the next big indie orchestra, wait another few albums. Because I'm sure they'll be there.
This just isn't it...