Pants Yell!

Received Pronunciation

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On Received Pronunciation, their fourth album and first for Slumberland, Boston trio Pants Yell! have taken a step back from the fairly orchestrated sound of previous record Alison Statton in favor of something more direct and stripped down to the basics of guitars, drums, and voices. It's a little bit disappointing at first, since the addition of external instruments and different textures on Alison Statton fit the kind of precisely literate and quietly emotional songs the band writes so well, but that feeling wears off soon. It's a different kind of listening experience, but that's OK. The songs are just as good, the performances have plenty of crackle and bite, and vocalist Andrew Churchman remains a fully paid-up member of the maximum emotion through minimal effort club as he delivers the unfailingly intelligent lyrics. The album's super-short running time (nine songs in 26 minutes) means that there isn't really much room for anything other than the bare essentials; no lengthy guitar solos, no meandering ballads, no time for wasted notes or words. That's not to say that Pants Yell! don't cover a lot of ground on Received Pronunciation as they take the listener through the travails of love lost ("Cold Hands"), deliver some fierce invective in their best Modern Lovers style ("Got to Stop"), clue a friend in to the unfortunate fact that her boyfriend is "an asshole" ("Someone Loves You"), and on the lone ballad ("Not Wrong"), get nostalgically melancholy in a very Lucksmith-ian fashion. On the whole it's a strong effort from a really good, smart pop band -- the kind of record a fan of the early Go-Betweens or Aztec Camera would easily understand and possibly even love. The only flaw with the album is its abruptness; it means that by the time you are really starting to get into the proceedings, they are over. In an age of artistic excess, it's hard to criticize an album that gets the job done quickly and doesn't mess about; it's just too bad the band didn't have a couple more tunes to add.

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