One Eyed Jacks
World Leader Pretend
May 12, 2007
BY JASON SONGE
I'm glad the new songs World Leader Pretend debuted at One Eyed Jacks Saturday night aren't similar in sound to those on "Punches," the group's first album for Warner Brothers. But, I'm not so glad the new tunes aren't as immediately accessible or catchy as the ones on "Punches." Of course, I've only heard demos and live versions. Who knows how they'll sound when WLP comes back in November from recording them in Seattle? All I know is that most of the songs will have to grow on me, though I do see their potential. One that I know doesn't have to grow on me is "Wash Away," a song whose chorus almost starts humming itself when you first hear it.
The new songs sound organic, which is how they were put together. Since there was more collaboration this time around, drummer Arthur Mintz was able to build a song up from just a beat. Or, guitarist/vocalist Keith Ferguson came in with a melody, which the group then developed the song from. As a result, the new songs don't sound as meticulously created as the "Punches" set. I know that Wilco created their new album with a newfound need for collaboration, and those songs sound simpler and lazy and a bit thrown together, just like the new WLP songs(jittery and fuzzy, as in fuzz guitar, are good descriptors for the tunes).
Maybe I just need to live with the new songs a bit longer. Maybe I miss the hint of hard rock testosterone in the "Punches" set. The one thing about the new songs that's awesome is watching Mintz almost kill himself pulling the beats off. He puts his body in the most uncomfortable positions, only to repeat and repeat and repeat. I hope he's drinking his milk, because I see a possible broken arm on the horizon.
The WLP set went well, though I don't think it was meant to be a rousing success. Seems like they were just trying to re-introduce themselves, to show people what page they're on. The crowd seemed a little detached and confused at first, but as the night wore on and the catchiness and energy of the band became undeniable, the crowd loosened up. At one point the group invited Rotary Downs drummer Zack Smith onstage to play tambourine, and during the encore, they got as many people as possible onstage during their last song. It was definetely an extended version, as the band members couldn't signal each other to stop through the crowd of people.
Can I say that bassist Alex Smith is an unheralded but extremely important member of that band? Yes, I can, and apparently, I just did. He's rock solid while keeping a relaxed groove. New to the band is keyboardist/vocalist Blair Gimma. Her vocal sweetness is more than welcome.
The moral of this whole review? If you want my love, just put sleigh bells in your songs. I'm a sucker for sleigh bells.