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Splitsville - Complete Pet Soul

  by Gary Wollen

published: 21 / 2 / 2002



Splitsville - Complete Pet Soul
Label: Houston Party
Format: CD

intro

Enjoyable homage to the sixties that, as well as an obvious Beach Boys influence, also takes inspiration from the Beach Boys and Big Star


I remember the first time I set my eyes on this album. It was a dark afternoon in the middle of January. I was looking for something to inspire my imagination in the bleak winter months of no credible releases when my eyes spied this gem. Just one look at the cover of this album is enough to entice and arouse the curiosity and expectation of someone merely nursing a passing infatuation for The Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds', or indeed, for that matter, having an unconditional devotion for this landmark of popular music. I, for one, thought well, the very least this offering could be is interesting, being made, quite obviously and unashamedly by people displaying the tell tale signs of Wilson idolatry that affects myself and millions of others. The role call of instruments here also knowingly point to the mid sixties Beach Boys influence. They include mellotron, clarinet, banjo, and accordion. Enough said ! If these reference points in themselves don't give the game away then the song titles certainly do. Titles such as 'Caroline Knows', 'The Love Songs Of B Douglas Wilson', and 'Tuesday through Saturday' should be enough to close the deal. It's in my basket. Here's the money. I'm not sharing. It's mine, mine, mine. If you are on some kind of holy quest for ground breaking, cutting edge music that will challenge everything you've ever conceived about pop music, an album to reinforce the notion that music can either defy of define society and call all manner of socio, evolutionary, and behavioural notions into question, then forget this release. If you want, however an album to delight you, an album that hints in it's tracks, in varying degrees, at the instrumental and vocal complexities of the sixties, something that will embrace the very notion of pop music, a collection of songs to move your heart and redeem your soul, then look no further. Some of this body of work was initially issued in 1995 as an EP. This release was expanded from that format, and works very well as an entire suite of songs. It doesn’t sound at all cobbled together as an album recorded in two or more parts are prone to do. The influences here though are more widespread than 'Pet Sounds'. The Beatles and Big Star can also be sighted as an inspiration, although they are merely hinted at rather than pointedly copied. Whether you regard this piece of work as only a pastiche or an honoured and calculated homage is simply irrelevant, because the songs here win you over time and time again. If Teenage Fanclub, the Cosmic Rough Riders, and the wonderful Apples In Stereo popped your cork this will grab the bottle from you, and then smash it over your head and leave you hazily intoxicated without you consuming so much as a drop. From the first backwards cymbals on 'Overture' through the lush, melodic strains of 'Aliceanna' with its superb examples of Wilsonian delicacy and beauty and beyond the obvious references of “Caroline Knows” it sounds lazy to keep hammering home the inspiration of this album, but put plainly, the album and the tracks therein evoke, in varying degrees, the instruments, textures, references, and song structures favoured by Brian Wilson. Where this differs is that 'Pet Sounds' itself elicits a wistful melancholia. 'The Complete Pet Soul' hints at a wonderful warmth with a full palette of resonant colours. The culmination of this work is their version of the Burt Bacharach/ Hal David classic ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’, which on first listening sounds like a bad cover version, but which, after several listens and in context with the rest of this album, you'll realise is a glorious tongue in cheek pastiche of a fine pop song. The style of performance beautifully flits and flirts with every genre of American pop rock, and each verse and chorus is dedicated to its own arrangement and sonorous interpretation. Some bands albums, nay careers, have less variety in them than this superb album closure. Just don’t listen to this as you would a Radiohead track. Some things just sound better dumb.



Track Listing:-
1 Overture
2 Forever
3 Aliceanna
4 Pretty People
5 Caroline Knows
6 Sunshiny Daydream
7 Tuesday Through Saturday
8 You Ought to Know
9 The Popular
10 The Love Songs of B. Douglas Wilson



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