Although indie rock band Pela hails from Brooklyn, the group sounds a lot more like Brits Bloc Party, Coldplay, or the Futureheads than any of the precious and/or dancey indie pop that has been populating that particular borough's sound as of late. Singer Billy McCarthy yelps as well as Kele Okereke when he wants to, nearly unintelligible on "Waiting on the Stairs," the opening track of Pela's full-length debut, Anytown Graffiti, but he can also find the sweeter, almost crooned notes on songs like "Your Desert's Not a Desert at All" when he needs to, showing the band's versatility and individuality. Because don't think that the album's simply a knockoff or re-creation of recent trends. Pela has enough of their own sound going -- lush guitars, even in the sparser, more angular songs, a little Bruce Springsteen influence, a little Interpol, and plenty of sweeping melodies and pounding drums -- to distinguish them as something unique, and something worth hearing. The pieces on the album certainly do resemble one another -- Pela has a formula, a vision, and they stick to it -- but instead of making Anytown Graffiti seem predictable or derivative, this consistency gives an element of depth and wholeness to it, like it's a complete piece, a fully explained thought, instead of just a collection of separate ideas. The songs, while not overtly catchy in their own right, work together to make something that lasts, something that sticks, something you want to hear again and again. It's not groundbreaking work but it's good, and the kind of thing that stays around with you when you're done with it, even if you can't exactly remember why. Anytown Graffiti's not a perfect record -- mostly because frequently McCarthy tries to fit too many syllables in his lines, and often the verses and chorus, intra- and inter-song, can sound very similar -- but it's a great first effort, a satisfying listen, and a successful accomplishment overall.
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown