Van Pelt

Stealing from Our Favorite Thieves

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The first LP from indie outsiders the Van Pelt takes up right where their debut EP left off and proves that their original sound was less of a fluke than it was a startling new direction. Opening with the blasting riff of "His Steppe Is My Prairie," Stealing From Our Favorite Thieves quickly drops into the upbeat guitar grooves that usher in the instantly recognizable voice of Chris Leo. The formula for the rest of the record is pretty similar: catchy riffs that dissolve into slightly more intricate and relaxed grooves, with alternating singing and off-key screaming. It doesn't sound like the greatest combination, but it really works amazingly well. Leo's usually restrained delivery is still 100% rock & roll, but it also makes him out as a likeable guy who knows when not to push it and when to ram it into the listeners' ears. The band did go on to make a much better follow-up record, but that is not to say that this is a charmless outing; rather, it's proof that they started out good and only got better. Lyrically, the Van Pelt are a glorious anomaly; there are rarely words that are hard to understand, but their meaning is all but up to the listener. Leo is a preacher of his own ideas, and they flow from his mouth in a jumbled mess that adds the necessary mystery to the group. Guitars provide the necessary safety net for all of the band's escapades, and while the songs seem to blend into one another, the sporadic use of chugging chords and spacious free-flowing notes make for a constantly shifting setting that has a very unique feel.

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