Awkward as a Beehive
Recently I have come into the good fortune of accidentally settling into an exciting music and art-intense community. Among the many amazing bands in the area, Pleasant are helping to give new life to what had become the depleted soil of Chapel Hill. Since 2000 theyíve been playing in the area, recording and fine-tuning their sound into a brand of upbeat, yet dark, masterful pop. With the help of producer Zeno Gill (Rosebuds, Portastatic, Des Ark, etc.) and Jeff Byrd (Spoon, Pinback, etc), they have unleashed a beautiful, full album of twelve non-compromising tracks.
Each track, just as rich as the last, offers subtle yet sometimes jagged back-and-forth guitar play, backdrop bass, and easy, relaxed drumming. The focal point certainly seems to be Sean Parkerís vocals and lyrics. At times when he leaves his disheartened croon, he has this jittery quality to his voice, almost as though heís taunting us; heís letting us know that at any moment he could switch over into that disco yelp for which heís itching. Though mellow and slower, the beats and bass-lines are there, waiting in the dark to slip into a heavy disco groove on queue.
On the more serious side, Pleasant does maintain that true-to-Chapel Hill 90s sound, though the guitars are a bit more hushed. The music and even the odd, unconventional vocal melodies (which are great) recount ghosts from the mid-90s college scene. Make no mistake though, Pleasant is not a rehash group caught in the glory of old.
I guess itís hard these days to grow up as a band in the North Carolina Triangle and hide/ignore your townís roots. Thereís always that hurtle of ďremember those daysĒ that a town like this strives to move past. After an area has been so fertile and overgrown, itís hard to nurture new bands into the time. I think Pleasant does it quite well, and there is an obvious respect to the elders of yester-decade, but thereís an untapped and exciting quality lying underneath.
This is definitely going into the book as one of the more pop-driven albums of the year that Iíve loved. With each listen Iím left wishing I knew the lyrics better, so I could join in Sean and Mariaís (bass & backing vocals) fun. Iíll just go to their next show and pretend I know the lyrics; Iíll be the guy on the side that is pretending to know them but for some reason, wonít stop mouthing the wrong shapes. Yes! I will be the fool. The pleasantly smiling fool. Viva Pox!
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