Pinqís first studio album, Quiet Games for Hot
Weather, is the type of record you put in when you just
donít feel like doing anything at all, including listening
to any of your other CDs. For about forty-five minutes, lead
singer Tim Mitchell and company unfold a vast sonic
landscape that effortlessly flows from one track to another,
taking you on a slow journey through hypnotic guitar drones,
monochromatic melodies, and wonderfully inward lyrics. The
result is an album for the album-as-a-whole lovers, the kind
of album for those of us who donít like to be bothered by
the responsibility of pressing more buttons than "play"
on our players. Dreamy, surreal, and engaging, you donít merely
finish listening to Quiet Games when itís over, you
wake up from it.
The first track, "Careful Not to Mention the Obvious,"
wastes no time in getting the brooding started. Mitchellís
voice comes on vulnerable and a little flawed, exposing personal
lyrics marked by seemingly less-than-ideal life experiences:
tried to be perfect / but it didnít go well / tried to
be perfect / but sinning went too well. At a mildly epic
eight minutes long, this song can be a little demanding for
those looking for some good mixtape fodder. But as with the
rest of the album, patience is a virtue here. A slow-rolling
instrumental emerges midway through the track, builds, climaxes,
and gives way to a stark and lovely piano melody looping over
quiet bubbling synths. Itís a good song to play the next time
you find yourself driving off into the sunset in slow motion
with closing credits scrolling up in the horizon.
"Drinking Song," starts with a lazy swing and turns
into an anthem of bittersweet triumph with the chorus, youíre
sorry because you were caught/ youíre only angry cuz youíre
losing. Like these, the lyrics throughout the album are
insightful and economical; most of the album is written out
in a single paragraph in the liner notes. "Drinking Song"
and "Some Somewhere Now" might be the only songs
on the album that hint at any sort of traditional song structure
in the sense that they have a few verses and a repeated chorus.
The rest of the album meanders freely from vocals to instrumentals,
from quiet piano to unsettling fuzz and distortion, from the
contained to the chaotic.
"Up for Breakfast" is a sleepy little instrumental
that sounds more like a bedtime number than one to rise and
shine to, but it serves as an appropriate segue to my favorite
song on the album, "D.I.Y. Love Song." Here Mitchellís
at times weak voice is used to its full potential and is accompanied
by a few filtered back-up vocals, drum loops, and samples
of people talking. Like the first track, midway through this
song a pulsing instrumental takes over and builds for quite
some time until the songís dramatic end. This seems to be
an effective way for Pinq to stretch out their limited bank
of song material.
"L.M.O.E.," an abbreviation for Last Man On Earth,
is an elegant track featuring smooth vocals over a melodic
piano and guitar backdrop. The second half of the song in
"traditional" Pinq fashion is purely instrumental,
but rightfully so because the band is quite talented at what
they do. Much of the album reminds me of Tortoise before
their Standards album, perhaps with a touch of Spiritualized
(note the organ on "Flipbook") or a dash of
Pink Floyd in the way the lyrics seem sparse and unhurried.
An instrumental-heavy album like this one takes the main focus
away from the frontman and gives the band a more equal opportunity
feel to it.
Quiet Games for Hot Weather is an excellent recording,
especially for a debut album. The lyrics are poetically down-to-earth,
as is the music, and the overall sound seems equally as crafted
as it does spontaneous. As the opening line goes, thereís
gold in them hillz" so heed Mitchellís observation
and give this one a listen.
- Careful Not To Mention The Obvious
- Drinking Song
- Some Somewhere Now
- Up For Breakfast
- D.I.Y. Love Song
- Xmas With The Matador
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