The first song I listened to off “Anytown Graffiti” was “Lost to the Lonesome,” a driving pop song with a good beat and well-crafted hooks. It got my toes tapping. Yet, when I’d finished listening to the record I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. I threw it into my “shuffle review” playlist and forgot about it until a few days later when Pela marched through again. This time, I heard “Tenement Teeth,” and at first I thought it was Stellastarr*. But the vocals had more range.
I gave the album another spin and realized what it was: Pela sounds like Brandon Flowers backed by Arcade Fire in a better recording studio playing love songs written by Bruce Springsteen and Modest Mouse. Or maybe Interpol.
Yeah, that’s a lot of big names to be compared to, but Pela shows that kind of promise. It’s a strong first record, with tons of catchy tunes. There’s not a dumper on the album, in fact.
So why did I not fall instantly in love with it? Well, let me say that I didn’t fall instantly in love with The Killers, either. And my sole criticism of Anytown Graffiti is the same as my sole criticism of Hot Fuss: The album sounds a hell of a lot like other bands. So much so that by the time I’d finished hearing the album, I still didn’t feel like I really knew Pela’s sound. And if you’re going to make big, echoey, arena-style rock, you must project powerfully.
But if you’re gonna sound like other bands, you certainly could throw in with a worse lot than Pela has. And the album is a rich mine that yields rewards with repeated listens. Unexpected rewards. It wasn’t until my second time through that I found the wonderful guitar-drum break at the end of “Cavalry.” And I’d heard “Lost to the Lonesome” three times before I noticed that the vocals are slightly behind the beat, much like Eminem.
And hey, sounding like The Killers certainly ain’t bad. Especially when The Killers won’t do it themselves these days.
Razorlight-America. The (kinda) new single.
THE FIERY FURNACES 5.4.06
A four song set. Go here.