erasing clouds

Pants Yell!, Received Pronunciation

review by dave heaton

By this latest album, the instrumental side of Pants Yell’s music has grown more muscular and rich, while still in the same minimalist style of their previous releases. They have built up a small but mighty catalogue of little studies in shyness and heartbreak, sketches of buildings and cities and places in general, portraits of interactions among siblings, ex-lovers and people in general.

Received Pronunciation begins with “Frank and Sandy”, a vignette of a party or possibly a night of babysitting. From there it rolls into great examples of the group’s style of swinging melancholy, with snappy rhythms, choppy guitars, rolling basslines and shy but persistent melodies. Several of these are among their best work, with especially emotional, while not that atypical, vocal turns from Andrew Churchman and his sharp-as-ever writing buoyed by the strong playing. I admire the restlessness in “Rue de la Paix”, the commonality it reveals between tourists and the heartbroken. “I know there’s a place for me”, goes a central line.

Another standout is “Cold Hands”, which has fear but also a kind of hope in its barging forward. Churchman turns “if you’re sad then show it / unhappy with life we know it”, into a sort of anthem. “Got to Stop” is another great song, with anger in it that gives the band’s air of sadness extra depth. The band gets almost raucous on “Someone Loves You”; “Marble Staircase” follows with a ripper of a guitar part driving it. With “To Take”, the album ends on a gentler but ultimately just as exciting and energetic note. “What’s the point of all this living / living’s all I ever do?”, Churchman sings, a little while before the song builds into almost a jam, something special that feels very freeing for such a generally straight-laced band. When has exasperation ever sounded this fun?


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