The Purrs Keep On Doin' Their Twang

August 28th, 2009

The Purrs play the part of the persistent underdog well. The band is one that you’ve probably heard of. You’ve likely read a positive review about them in your favorite online music reading place (guilty). They’re probably a band that you’ve inadvertently stumbled upon in some Ballard venue on some rainy weeknight. Yet they’re likely not the first band that comes to mind when somebody posits the question, “What’s your favorite guitar pop band in Seattle?” Well, the dudes aren’t ready to give in; not to fickle audiences, not to unappreciative labels, and surely not to the undulating local music scene full of synths, glitches, beards and crossovers. As such, the band has given us Amused, Confused & More Bad News, its third full-length and arguably its most evolved and succinct output yet.

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The quartet, for the most part, stays true to its atmospheric psych-pop maxims: vocalist/bassist Jima’s lucid bellyaches about his heartbreaks and hangovers, eternally stuck in the doldrums, and Jason Milne’s high-fret wandering manifestos. Like any good songwriter, Jima is adept at turning his written prose into singing poetry, often laced with cynicism and snark. The guy’s probably had ten times as many breakups as you or I, yet he is nothing if not resolute, determined to shake off his funk, and preferably with a drink. There is a heaviness to this album that differs from their first two, as the band opts for less exploration and more immediacy in achieving their final compositions. The record’s success ultimately hinges on Jima’s ability to corral his emotions (and pitch) and Milne’s proclivity for testing the heights of his spiraling, skygazing strings. The Purrs are not a duo however, and drummer Craig Kellen and new rhythm guitarist Bob Silverstein complement their mates capably. Kellen, in particular, is as solid as skin pounders come.

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“Sister” is the leadoff track, and for good reason. Milne’s Fender explodes into a beautiful, blistering wah-wah arpeggio that lasts a good 90 seconds (the rest of the band joins in, including a third guitar). It really lays into the listener and sets a towering tone while Jima and Silverstein conspire for their best harmonies of the record. You’d be hard-pressed not to conjure memories of your favorite Brit-pop band—from the Smiths to Oasis—while listening to the album’s jangly, hook-heavy first half, with “Fear of Flying” and “Feeling Fine” as the poster songs. The second half of the record is where the Purrs slow it down and burn through some solemn psychedelia. “The Outpost” is possibly the best song they’ve penned (ok, maybe not better than “Taste of Monday”), a colossal and wide-eyed venture. Jima ponders the future of his relationship in the wake of the “gigantic machine” and has this gurgling noise (guitar pedal? organ?) that steps through each verse like a dejected creature plodding through the cosmos.

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Not quite the final track, “Good Times Will Come” is the de facto closer of Amused. It’s a broiling drifter of a song, aimlessly roaming a lost, sun-scorched highway. The Purrs are convinced better times are ahead, and if this record doesn’t get ‘em there, well, who knows how they’ll handle it.

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“Sister”

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“Fear of Flying”

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“The Outpost”

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“Good Times Will Come”

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The Purrs celebrate Amused, Confused & More Bad News at the Sunset this Saturday, August 29th, with Black Nite Crash and Blood Red Dancers. Don’t miss this lineup.

Posted by LB | Filed in Album Reviews, MP3s, Music



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