by Jason Hoffman
Anasthetically Pleasing, the latest offering from the world of “indie-rock,” declares that good old-fashioned song writing still makes sense. Eschewing almost every fad riddling contemporary pop music (overblown production, a myriad of vocal collaborators, extemporaneous rapping, Fred Durst, etc.), Anasthetically Pleasing works in a much more traditional way, comprised of tight arrangements, interesting melodies and focused lyrics.
Content to follow in his heroes’ footsteps, Philonous usually sticks to the straight-ahead rock n’ roll that served his heroes so well (U2, Beatles, Dylan, Costello). Exceptions are the massive “Portrait of a Ghost” (clocking in at 9:34), “The Hard Way” and “Breath.” On these tracks, Philonous gives way to his artsy side, allowing each song to soar, then fall, then soar again. “The Hard Way” conjures up a dreamy mood and vibe along the lines of Built To Spill, with meandering guitar lines and an extended jam. It’s an effective tool. Other clever song writing devices include weaving familiar melodies into original compositions, giving much of the disc a Deja-Vu effect. The Righteous Brothers’ “Dream” can be heard at the end of “Don’t Let Them Pick Your Brain,” and the Beatles’ “I’m Down” is the lifeblood of “Worn Down.” Philonous isn’t plagiarizing here; he’s twisting the pre-existing structure of Rock into a whole new entity.
While portions of Pleasing find Philonous messing with his listener’s heads, the majority of the record is as clear as a bell. “More Than Trouble” bounces along like James Bond’s theme song on the way to a karaoke lounge. “Don’t Tempt Me” is a driving track dealing with spiritual and physical seduction. And then there’s “Finders Keepers/Araby,” a tune that miraculously evolves from a clunky folk number into a hypnotic eastern thang. Closing out the disc is the second of two beautiful instrumentals, “Resolution.” More information can be obtained at www.philonous.com.
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