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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Pale Young Gentlemen
Pale Young Gentlemen
self-released

Rating: 8.8/10 ?


August 23, 2007
Thanks to advancements in the standards of today's music criticism, Pale Young Gentlemen run the risk of easy classification. Fostering a DIY approach similar to that of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah before them, Pale Young Gentlemen have come into the industry on their own terms, brandishing a sound that teeters on the brink of something big. The band's sound, which spans from the jingly flavor of Eastern European folk to the barroom musings of Tom Waits, will no doubt draw countless comparisons to the likes of Beirut and the Cold War Kids, a lush collage of styles and influences sure to achieve instant praise from listeners and critics alike. The pump is primed - Pale Young Gentlemen are merely waiting for the all too rough cartography of a music site to put out the good word and get the fire started. Lets give it a shot.

Through a combination of bad timing and a continuation of music industry circular logic, cutting edge acts tend to be pigeonholed by music critics based on the ear-opening efforts of previous bands. Even though Pale Young Gentlemen are distant cousins to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and while they have the baroque sensibility of any number of bands versed in barroom balladry, they have more in common with Andrew Bird and (dare I say it) Coldplay than they do these other acts. In short, Pale Young Gentlemen have the ability to move seamlessly from the quirky to the storied to the climactic. In their own words, "think Jacques Brel meets Randy Newman meets rowdy thespians."

If the Gentlemen's self-titled debut feels like a collection of ideas - snippets more than short fiction - that's because the album is filled with transitions that are paced as irregularly as lead singer Michael Reisenauer's varied intonations. Reisenauer demonstrates his ability to paint a burlesque portrait of a dancer ("Fraulein") while just as seamlessly using that Eastern-European leitmotif to create an effect of a synchronized dance floor ("Clap Your Hands"). This is not to mention first person personae explorations that fall on this side of the Eastern bloc, a soldier who questions his duty to go to war because he's in love ("Up North"), and another about a man holding true to his ideals because of his ability to decipher reality from its reproduction ("A Shadow On the Wall").

Thoroughly theatric, Pale Young Gentlemen's measured approach is channeled by the bricolage upshot of their composition. Reisenauer brothers Michael and Matt, along with friend Brett Randall (piano, drums, and guitar), formed the band in a big bedroom in Wisconsin, but they quickly added Milwaukee-based musician Andrew Brawner (bass) and cellist Elizabeth Weamer to complete a lineup that allows them to transition effortlessly from the crooning, booze-soaked man show of "Saturday Night" to the delicate orchestrations of "My Light, Maria," a show-stopping effort by Michael Reisenauer and Weamer.

While the streaming, podcasting, and downloadable revolution of the Interweb has produced a string of bands who have compiled winning debuts with little to no live experience, such is not the case with Pale Young Gentlemen. In fact the band has created a respectable following in their hometown of Madison, having opened for such praised acts as the Clientele and Beach House. Now, with the infectious blend of small and large scale compositions on their eponymous debut, the stir Pale Young Gentlemen are creating in south-central Wisconsin is sure to spread to the rest of the country, their lake effect brand of music leaving powdery drifts of lush Gypsy pop in their wake.

Reviewed by Patrick Gill
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.

See other reviews by Patrick Gill

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