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Green Pajamas - Narcotic Kisses

  by Gary Wollen

published: 4 / 11 / 2002

Green Pajamas - Narcotic Kisses
Label: Camera Obscura
Format: CD


Stylish and eclectic Americana tinged psychedelia from the Seattle-based Green Pajamas

I guess I must be going soft in my advancing years. Normally as soon as I hear anything appropriating bagpipes my left hand strikes a swift blow in the direction of the eject button. Suffice to say that in a hypothetical situation, faced with a piper and Bin Laden, and armed with only two bullets and a revolver, the piper would get a brace of lead…. Just to make sure. It’s not any anti-Celtic sentiment. I could give you a list as long as your arm of Scottish bands I not only love, but also revere. It’s just that there is something that I find inherently grating about the Scots’ national instrument. Anyway, what I was trying to get round to saying, is that the introduction to ‘I’ve Got a Crush on You’ (the opening track on 'Narcotic Kisses') starts with an incredibly strong Celtic flavour. As it is not the dreaded bagpipes I, however, battle through and when the song kicks in it opens up and turns into a delight. The whole album flows quite effortlessly and seamlessly with a consistent production and self-assured quality. I was first aware of the Green Pyjamas via their rather splendid CD ‘Five Fathoms And Falling’. I fell instantly for their Americana tinged psychedelia, laced as it was, with fuzzy guitar, loping melodic bass lines, and backwards sounds. There is still a certain amount of those merits on ‘Narcotic Kisses’. There are also songs that rank in quality alongside the mesmeric ‘She’s Still Bewitching Me’ or ‘She Doesn’t Love You Anymore’, both of which appeared on "Five Fathoms and Falling'. The major difference between ‘Five Fathoms And Falling’ and ‘Narcotic Kisses’ is that the former’s psychedelia was the bag the band was into. Now these assets are merely a badge, albeit one that adorns a fine jacket of stylish, yet ultimately simple production. There are strings on this album, so be warned. They are, however, never overused, and when they are engaged they are treated in a subtle, elevating way and not, as is the case too often, in an overpowering flourish. They contribute, together with some piano, to construct some world beating melodies and gentle understated signatures. This, together with the absence of over-ambitious production pave the way for an altogether sparser yet more mature and self-confident offering. I previously found myself distracted from the songs themselves by the clutter of sounds, no matter how well intentioned. These attributes are never put to a better use than on ‘If Tomorrow Comes’. It offers an addictive, poppy melody underpinned with some eloquently simple, yet highly effective strings that give the song a majestic quality. ‘Ballerina’ is a mighty, yet gracious ballad that throws the listener by cutting in with an unexpectedly vivid and unforgettable waltz as the chorus. It’s these twists and turns that direct the album and forge the psychedelic path, rather than swirling pastiches and considered trippiness. The emphasis here is very much on the song rather than studio trickery. What the Green Pyjamas have done is taken their heroes and instead of trying to recreate or emulate their sound have admirably taken up the challenge to attain the quality of songs and song writing that those heroes set. It is, I suppose, a sign of maturity and self-belief that one must attain before walking from the shadows of mentors or idols. It is a trick that some never learn and others never bother to strive for. Thank heavens that the Green Pyjamas have been brave enough to do it. Let’s hope, in the words of Julian Cope, that they learn to accept their reward.

Track Listing:-
1 I've Got A Crush On You
2 These Are The Best Times
3 Song For Christina / A Nightmare
4 The Demon Lover
5 The Fall
6 Vampire Crush
7 If Tomorrow Comes
8 Ballerina
9 The Ravenna Witch No 1
10 Drowning
11 Dim Phantoms Of An Unknown All
12 Deadly Nightshade
13 If He Should Go Away
14 The Night Wind
15 Highgate
16 Just Another Perfect Day

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