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I just bet there’s a rivalry running between Petroleum and fellow Los Angeleans The Mansions. Their sounds are very complimentary. Both require suspension of disbelief to swallow the faux accent. And they’ve got to share the same fan base. While the Mansions get tapped for the Bauhaus comparisons, Petroleum’s Braden Poirer leans more to the Iggy Pop side of the scale. Up to and including the intentionally off-key moments. Musically they’re indulgently creepy. The tunes are comfortable at first, and then with a sudden twist they take you just far enough off the path to bludgeon you.

"Julip’s Ride" kicks in with sleazy Revolting Cocks distortion crossed with low-down Wolfgang Press vocals. It’s unexpectedly slow, which turns out to be really good in setting the stage. It becomes obvious that you’ll be entering their world with no whining or complaints. Poirer likes to slide down low, and his great voice really paints the pictures. The piece proves that real drums can lead the industrial revolution. The pretty start of "Images You Steal" is slow piano with a rollicking rhythm, courtesy of Krista Stassi. From there, the stuttering drum machine sullies it a bit, but Poirer’s Iggy Pop confidence and weird snotty guitar licks make up for it. A little bongo action flavors it up nicely. The keys seem to be throwing off the pacing. The piano comes back to close it out Swans style. A bit of "Ants Invasion" gets nicked for "Spy Machine." The tune is a little upended in the midst of finding itself. Lyrically it gets sticky, borrowing from nursery rhymes which has become a cliché within a cliché. But sonically it succeeds in keeping you guessing. The cabaret keyboards on "The Room" compliment the Gavin Friday vocal feel. The abrupt ending leaves you wanting. "Drive’ has a lighter Sisters Of Mercy vision thing going on. The imagery is odd, Hey sister, where’d you get that name? We’ll drive real far if you seduce my car. Then there are some glitches. Among the "Friends Of Mine" Poirer lists, it’s a surprise he left out Jose Cuervo and my partner Jimmy Beam. No new light is shed on the theme. And as he complains that he is wasting his time, their talents suffer the same fate. "New Day" is a forgettable dancey number that could have been a recent U2 track, or taking the nice piano into account, maybe Charlatans without the weed.

"Her Skin Shines" does wonders to turn things back around. The usual fuzzed guitar is cut through with a nodding Joy Division tune. Devin Devoor’s bass carries the line to the end. The underlying keys push into the build. The sound separation in "Time" has noises phasing from all around. Zack Fagan’s tribal drums roll through, as synths, vocals and then guitars layer themselves neatly. Each element adds more excitement and depth. Poirer dons his Peter Murphy cloak here. The vocals are too brief, but his guitar ekes out a fleshy verse of it’s own. Spacey synths and great slappy bass are left to finish this album highlight. The whole desert caravan reminds me of Fallen From Grace. Even the lyrics are more noteworthy; Time waits for no man. It’s lost with his gray heart in a strange land. He finds a road to town. And he fails a simple test and falls down. The title track is a savory Italian concertina song. It comes with visions of Inspector Clouseau bumbling around trying to breach the castle wall. The nearly traditional sound uses cool and unusual progressions. It breaks open into a heavily distorted rock chorus. The end result is Serge Gainsborough having a Tom Waits industrial midlife crisis.

On a Pink Panther scale: If one is Curse Of The Pink Panther, and ten is A Shot In The Dark; Emerge rates an eight, the original Pink Panther.

Complaints Dept: Musical style over lyrical substance.

Ewan Wadharmi

Track Listing:

  1. Julip’s Ride
  2. Images You Steal
  3. Spy Machine
  4. The Room
  5. Drive
  6. Friends Of Mine
  7. New Day
  8. Her Skin Shines
  9. Time
  10. Emerge

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