Self-releases: the mark of a band reserved for a torrid lifetime of pub gigs, or music that’s just too forward thinking and progressive for the labels to ‘get’? In Wisconsin quintet Pale Young Gentlemen’s case, neither – it’s just something that has… happened.
From the jaunty musical tales of Wisconsin, right through to the idealistic rural-American artwork, Pale Young Gentlemen have strung together one of the year’s finest indie releases all on their own terms. Not only do they eschew the usual guitars and drums set-up of your average indie band with a piano and violin heavy sound, but they succeed because they’re_ fantastic _songwriters.
Pale Young Gentlemen excel in the execution. Matthew Reisenauer’s voice, constantly alternating between a wobbly shout and mysterious laid-back croon, gives the dramatic lyrical stories a personality. These are lyrics that would sound silly had Pale Young Gentlemen not executed them so well. Even the production is flawless, in part due to the omission of the electric guitar that would usually distort the sound of the acoustic instruments. ‘Fraulein’ initiates the proceedings with a tight bout of violin/viola interplay and catchy verse, and come the album’s closer ‘Single Days’ they’re still focused. You won’t find any paltry experimentation here.
Pale Young Gentlemen don’t really sound like anyone else. There are hints of their influences, at times sounding like a patchwork of Andrew Bird, Beirut and The Dresden Dolls, but bringing them all together was a wise move. Pale Young Gentlemen – as an album – is musical theatre. Switching between moments of mid-tempo melancholy to upbeat cabaret, they strike a perfect juxtaposition. This is made all the more worthy with the DIY aesthetic in the background story. Oh, and seeing as no-one this side of the Atlantic has heard of them, you can out-indie your friends if you feel inclined.
“The Unicorns? Yawn. I bet you haven’t heard of…”
8Ben Yates's Score