The second album is by far the most scrutinized release of any band. Fans (and critics) are at their most skeptical when eagerly awaiting “the sequel”. So naturally I approach this release with an air of raised eyebrow. After touting Pete & The Pirates‘ debut record Little Death as vintage Bloc Party I am a bit relieved to say their newest release One Thousand Pictures doesn’t disappoint.
When debut albums are loved or lamented with the greatest of ease, it’s the follow up release that is often the deciding factor in your devotion to an artist. Will it be an expansion of the band’s sound? Something dark and weird? This time around the boys from Reading, England showcase a much stronger electronic influence and stretch the boundaries of their quick-riff/hook-heavy pop songs creating more elaborate tunes with a greater emphasis on building up melodies and layers. Further evidence of this lies in the fact that each song is on average 60 to 90 seconds longer than those on the first record.
On the surface level, most people will notice lead-singer Thomas Sanders’ “very British” vocal style, the guitar-oriented hooks and a rather straightforward percussion line. But the beauty about these guys is their ability to create a package of songs that all sound different and unique while still bouncing along a consistent backbone.
“Shotgun” takes a while to get going but illustrates the band’s new sense of patience and discipline. The clean, atmospheric guitar may remind some listeners of U2′s The Edge or The Doves’ Jez Williams. Similar guitar can be found on “Washing Powder” and results in a beautiful tune where the vocals and melodies play off each other with the greatest of ease.
“Come To The Bar” was the first single of the album and stands out as a darker post-punk entry. While it’s not my personal favorite I appreciate the new direction. “United” is more my speed as a playful faster jam that may or may not be about hooking up with a ladyfriend. “Winter 1″ is another song with heaver electronic overtones and after the second or third listen will certainly be stuck in your head.
“Little Gun” is actually very similar to the songs off Little Death but there is a depth in particular to the bass lines that add a richer quality to this simple pop tune.
As a fan of “jangly” British indie rock I love this record. This is a band with a great sense of humor who appears committed to elevating their sound and not just doing more of the same. It’s a solid indie rock record free of arrogance and ridiculous filler. Hopefully Pete & The Pirates will venture across the Atlantic later this year and plunder a few rock shows in the States.
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