As a music critic, sometimes i worry that i miss a few things. For example, when The Purrs sent us their latest EP for review, they included three pages of press material in which various other critics lauded their similarity to Echo and the Bunnymen. I dunno why, but i just never got into the Bunnymen. I don't hate them really, it's just that I am strongly ambivalent towards them. On the other hand, i really dig Verve, and when i listen to No Particular Bar, No Particular Town what i hear is A Storm In Heaven rather than Crocodiles. However, this whole comparison thing makes me somewhat uneasy. What am i not getting in Echo and the Bunnymen? Is there a connection between them and Verve as well? If I like this EP, will I like albums by Echo and the Bunnymen?
Anyway, as i was saying, the No Particular Bar, No Particular Town EP reminds me of Verve. Specifically, vocalist Jima has a slightly nasally, slightly high-pitched, slow manner of singing that reminds me of Richard Ashcroft, and the guitars are tremolo-y, distorted, and chiming like the work of Nick McCabe. And that's a good thing really. The whole album is steeped in a vaguely psychedelic, slightly bluesy mood that moves along at mid-tempo pace. It's really nice, if you like that kind of thing. There are 4 songs on the EP, three original tunes and a cover. Let's go over each.
The Purrs kick things off with Ebb & Flow, which starts with a long, psychedelic intro of meandering guitar and tinkling drums that bleeds into a mellow echoed groove. When Jima starts singing the song really descends into Verve territory, with soaring solos of long notes, thudding drums, and prominent vocals. This is a groovey mellow rocker.
The second song, Because I Want To starts with jangling guitars and then gets nicely loud and fuzzy. This is a loud distorted rocker, with Jima really belting out the lyrics. I bet this is a great sing along in concert. The chorus and bridge are really catchy with all of the band singing "do do do do ahhhhhh" as the guitars grind away and drummer Greg Keller beats his kit into submission. This is a damned fine tune.
Keeping up with my Verve comparison, if track 1 is A Storm In Heaven
and track 2 is A Northern Soul, then track 3,
Don't Talk About Tomorrow is Urban Hymns.
It's nice and catchy and very polished. The voice is still echoed
like crazy, but the guitarwork here is bluesier and slightly
less distorted. It moves along at a nice, loping pace.
Now, at the start of track 4, we have only heard 17 minutes
of the nearly 30 minutes on the EP. That means that the final
track is a long one. It's called Creeping Coastline of Lights,
and is apparently a cover of a song by a band called Leaving
Trains, whom i have never head of before. This song sounds entirely
different than everything else on the album, specifically in
the guitarwork which, rather than being echoed and fuzzy, here
consists of a series of trebly arpeggios that sound like Klaus
Flouride on downers. Now, i am unfamiliar with the original
of this song, so i can't say how faithful of a cover it is.
However, i get bored with it at about the halfway point, which
is kind of a bummer because it ends the EP on a down note.
On the whole though, their three original songs are very strong. The Purrs obviously have some talent, and i bet they are incredible in concert. And despite the disappointment at the end of the EP, i do like it. I think it might have been better if they trimmed that final tune in half, but whatever.
Now, if you are unfamiliar with Verve, maybe it will help to substitute "Echo and the Bunnymen" into the comparisons above. I can't speak to how much this band sounds like the Bunnymen, although i can tell you that Verve fans will find much to enjoy here.