Van Pelt

The Sultans of Sentiment

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The second and final full-length release from the Van Pelt is really so good that it makes their breakup one of the most painful aspects of listening to the record. Their formula works brilliantly on this ten-track CD, with Chris Leo's grueling spoken vocals clearly paving the way for the evocative rock the rest of the band contributes. Over climaxing guitars and airy build-ups, Leo's abstract musings brim with emotion and, on tracks like "We Are the Heathens" and "Let's Make a List," his creative wording gives amazing credibility to his thoughts on social outsiders and the business of teaching. The arrangements are still pretty heavy on this record, unlike some of the more arty restrained rock on his later releases with the Lapse, and the band is as unafraid to rock out as Leo is to bring himself to the sort of unrestrained and slightly unmusical screams that give true feeling to "Don't Make Me Walk My Own Log." The Van Pelt aren't for everyone, and Leo certainly has the ability to drive some listeners crazy with his often monotonic mumbles, but the odd combination of subtle oddities are enough to make this a standout record from a standout band. No matter where you stand on the nuances of their craft, there's no denying that they do what they do in a smart and original way.

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