Pale Young Gentlemen Pale Young Gentlemen

[Self-Released; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: the soundtrack to a musical you would actually want to watch
Others: Randy Newman, Jacques Brel playing a lot faster

Pale Young Gentlemen’s most comely feature is Mike Reisenauer’s voice. The man’s got the voice of a European, despite being from Wisconsin. It’s that thick, mellifluous sort of thing that’s got some sort of (affected, I suppose) accent that’s just not quite placeable. Reisenauer’s voice perfectly fits the cabaret aura that the other members kick up. The Gentlemen (actually, four gentlemen, and one girl who obviously didn’t care about the band's name) know exactly what they’re doing, and it’s a little surprising that they haven't exploded yet, considering indie fans' current preferences for strings, theatricality, over the top-ness, and big, quivering, powerful voices.

This music on this self-titled release is perfectly and tightly composed and arranged. Mike is pretty adept at piano, and when his playing is coupled with Liz Weamer’s cello work (the group’s other most comely feature), the band's got that whole chamber music thing going. Mike’s brother Matt, however, prevents songs from veering too far into neo-classical territory. His drumming is decidedly poppier than the rest of the group's playing; on occasions, it’s even dancy.

But that’s not to say that the rest of the group doesn't play catchy music -- they surely do, and the more straight-ahead pop songs are the album's best moments. “Up North," with its handclaps and flowing, circular piano melody, is my personal pick. Many of the other tracks have a segmented feel that “Up North” does away with, which makes it stick out as quite enjoyable. But that certainly doesn’t take away from the other tracks. They're stuffed with all manner of hooks and ideas -- far more than one would expect from an album that barely breaks half-an-hour.

This band never missteps. Listen up.

Most Read