# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Pack A.D. - Do Not Engage

  by Adrian Janes

published: 13 / 6 / 2014

Pack A.D. - Do Not Engage
Label: Nettwerk Music Group
Format: CD


Passionate and powerful fifth album from Canadian garage rock duo, the Pack A.D.

The Pack A.D. are a Canadian duo composed of Becky Black (guitar and vocals) and Maya Miller (drums). Having been around since 2006, this is their fifth album, and their experience shows in the power and assurance that runs through this collection. It’s an album that needs to be heard in its entirety, as it gets progressively more interesting. The first two songs (‘Airborne’ and ‘Big Shot’) don’t lack for sheer visceral impact, especially in the early Banshees-style guitar and thumping drums of ‘Airborne’, but it’s with ‘Animal’ where the ears start to prick. Black’s voice has a soulful, angry edge like a deeper Beth Ditto, enhanced by a ravening wah-wah which by the end is released into the wild. The paranoia of ‘Creepin’ Jenny’ is hammered home by Miller’s compulsive tom-toms and her cymbal thrashes during the angst-laden chorus. It’s also one of the more immediately memorable tunes. ‘Battering Ram’ has similar characteristics, but with greater prominence given to Black’s fervent vocal. Almost as if the album is divided into two sides - and certainly The Pack’s music has plenty of roots in the vinyl era - sixth song ‘The Water’ marks the point where increasing experimentation begins, its Neu!-type rhythm and fuzzed-up riff moving like a revved-up motorboat. One of the faults on some of the other songs is a reliance on mere repetition of the title to serve as the chorus, but this isn’t the case here with this song’s more considered lyrics. Black also pitches her voice higher than previously, the echo on it giving something of a nod to early rock and roll. This ‘50’s feel continues even more strongly on the verses of the provocatively-titled ‘Stalking Is Normal’, before a burst of punkish energy ignites the chorus. The eras are melded together even more with the addition of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’-style backing vocals. Although some of the songs up until now have occasional reflective moments, it’s not until ‘Loser’ that there is real pause for thought. Black’s melancholy, phased vocal is slightly reminiscent of Chrissie Hynde, before the guitar and drums burst in as she declares: ”I’m alone because I chose to be/So if I’m lonely I’ve no-one to blame but me.” It’s one of the more affecting songs, in the struggle it displays between rationale and emotion, pride and self-hate. ‘The Flight’ verges on psychedelia. Over Miller’s brisk, jerky drum-pattern, Black’s treated voice is rich and low-pitched while sped-up and slowed-down effects evoke the Stones of ‘2000 Light Years from Home’. And it’s a typical Keith Richards guitar tone with solid, understated backbeat that then propels the verses of ‘Rocket’, though the chorus crosses heavier rock with tuneful female backing vocals. The reflections on mortality of ‘Needles’ (“Every breath I take is a second that I cannot replace”), expressed just by Black and her guitar, show a vulnerability after the assertive strength and purpose which runs through much of this album. But this doesn’t undermine those qualities, it simply makes for a more rounded band. Given the fact of their being a rock duo which emerged earlier in this century, there are some fairly obvious comparisons which could be made. (Factually speaking, producer Jim Diamond has indeed worked with the White Stripes.) But The Pack A.D. deserve to be heard in their own right: passionate and powerful, Black and Miller show themselves here to be wholly engaged.

Track Listing:-
1 Airborne
2 Big Shot
3 Animal
4 Creepin' Jenny
5 Battering Ram
6 The Water
7 Stalking Is Normal
8 Loser
9 The Flight
10 Rocket
11 Needles

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