8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A worthwhile expanded edition of this exceptional debut album,
This review is from: Pioneer Soundtracks - 10th Anniversary Edition (Audio CD)
Debate about different bands, albums, genres, proliferate music lover chat. One of the most contentious , and like all these debates fiercely subjective - topics is the greatest debut album. Should it be The Stones Roses, "Definitely Maybe" ( definitely not) "Mummer" "Real Life" , "Never Mind The Bollocks" and so on . Well here's a real left field contender . "Pioneer Soundtracks"..... a truly fantastic album , now available in expanded form. Musically audacious and emotionally captivating with some impressive lyrics "Pioneer Soundtracks" is well named because while it reminds you of other bands -The Tindersticks are an obvious comparison - it cuts a innovative swathe mixing forlorn grandiose balladry with swirling purple prose pop.
While the album was critically feted by critics on release and much promised by the bands front man -elegant Cardiff born fop Anthony Reynolds -the band released two more albums before sliding off the radar. Essentially this album is split into two sides ( Reynolds said "side one is all about putting your make up on, plucking your eyebrows. Side two is meant to hold your hand when you come down the morning after".) though of course this doesn't really translate on CD. Side one of my old worn vinyl copy is the more up-tempo , rockier poppy side . The string arrangements slash across the melodies like samurai swords or swirl around like a plastic bag in a tornado on the vertiginous wonders "Biography Of A First Son" and Wintercomessummer" . "White Jazz" is a more staccato post punk number but opening track "Of Lights" augers bleakly for what is to come with an ominous brooding vibe that foreshadows , or so it would seem some great personal cataclysm .
Then for what was the vinyl side two we enter the sort of territory ploughed on albums like "Berlin", and "Engine". Music so wracked and bereft yet so exquisitely beautiful that it takes the breath away . "Filthy Names" , the tale of "two Pissed up [...]" is sleazy yet gorgeous and is given genuine dramatic frisson by the crashing chords at the end. "I Didn't Mean It Marie" is a stately melancholic tale of forlorn regret built on silvery trails of guitar before the quite stunning trilogy of "FU" , "Dress You In Mourning " and "Hope Is A Liar". "FU" is augured in on contradictory atmospherics , but is a ballad of rare beauty about love and loss and anger (hence the title) but is also about gearing up for the night ahead. Dress You In Mourning " is a prettier song with a truly divine guitar refrain and fertile orchestration ."Hope Is A Liar" doesn't even resort to patibulary humour , set in a world where "The truth is wrong " and "Our lives are ending so that they may begin again" and is the most exquisite album closing track I can recall -along with The Triffids "Save What You Can".
The extra disc boast demos, extra b-sides , alternate versions and live tracks from a late 1996 concert at The Cigale in Paris-how very Jack that is . Theses are, as bonus tracks generally are a mixture of the interesting, flawed but enjoyable , baffling and things you will not worry about if you don't hear them again. I really like the demo of "White Jazz" with the violin high in the mix , the live material is terrific though Reynolds sounds a bit rough and includes the superb "Nico ,s Children of their next album . "Kid Stardust "- is the band in more celebratory form with pealing guitars while "I Was Drunk In The Underworld" has overlapping vocals and a staccato arrangement .E.P. track "The Seventh Day" starts all mournful but transforms into a breezy strum while the piano led "Hey Josephine" sounds like a song in transition as do the two following ballads. "Joes Dream" dummy's the listener by sounding all rockabilly .
I have now replaced my old worn vinyl copy with this re-issued CD , and it's been an absolute pleasure reacquainting myself with this truly brilliant album .As debuts go , like I indicated at the start of the review ,this is a serious achievement and should you wish to put aside such a desultory debate thats fine, for in whatever context it's put, Pioneer Soundtracks should be at some point the soundtrack for everyone's life.
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Initial post: 7 Jan 2008 23:07:51 GMT
Kevin Clarke says:
Russell Clarke writes with his usual flair and insight about the wonderful Jack, a band who showed that 'ballads' didn't have to mean sappy, stadium-friendly, soulless singalongs.
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