Everyone has at least one in their music collection. We can try to deny it all we like, but we all own an album we wouldn’t anyone else to know about, for fear of being ostracized or poked fun at. We call them `guilty pleasures’ for a reason, and I think I may have found a new one in Notes From The Underworld. Led by Russian-born vocalist Angelina Moysov, Persephone’s Bees is an Oakland, CA based band that crafts a style of dance-rock so infectious you’ll be checking your forehead for signs of fever. With cliché song titles like “Way To Your Heart” and “Nice Day” and similar lyrical sentiments, don’t expect to be profoundly moved, but do get ready to move your feet. This debut full-length will get you on the dance floor faster than an IV drip of 100 proof vodka running straight to your veins.
Moysov is like a highly-caffeinated Regina Spektor; her sultry vocals a perfect complement to the often crunchy guitars and psychedelic keyboard found throughout. With the exception of “Walk To The Moon,” Notes From The Underworld is an album with a designated play-time between the hours of 9pm and 2am; it’s pre-funk music for the club-goer in us all.
“Nice Day” is the immediate standout that screams for car commercial fame. Chirping birds and a simple piano melody segue into crystalline Brit-pop guitars spliced with electronic flourishes and Moysov’s summertime apathy: “I don’t care what they say/ It’s a nice day.” It’s clear from most of the songs on the album that while the band may take themselves seriously, they place more emphasis on having fun than impressing the discerning ears of critics or becoming their darlings. “Climbing” provides the case in point, with everything from bells to guitars that echo from beneath an ocean of distortion and bubble up in the surf. The carnival-keyboard of “City Of Love” nearly gets lost in a sideshow trance but is rescued by the contrasting guitar heaviness.
True to her roots and influences, Moysov reverts to her native tongue on “Muzika Dyla Fil’ma,” an homage to traditional Russian folk music sharpened with a modern rock edge. Notes From The Underworld is very much rooted in the present moment; which is fine for top 40 radio, but may leave music aficionados searching for more substance. In spite of its catchy exterior and danceable aesthetic, it’s unlikely I’ll remember much of this album a year from now. But as long as it’s fresh on my mind, it’ll be a guilty pleasure all the same.