This is nothing new under the sun…right?
In a world where someone has always come first and “tastes like chicken” is an agreed upon and adequate repsonse, comparisons are the building blocks of preference. Somewhere an unshaven, economically deprived, hygienically stunted pundit will no doubt argue that when certain bands drench their sound in that of their predecessors it discredits not only their artistic integrity but also their listenability. Prescribing to such a theory not only leaves one with a minimal record collection but steals away any chance of advancement. Yes, there is nothing new under the sun but then again, nothing is ever exactly the same…right?
Meet Please Dept., a band destined to draw comparisons to the waning critical wet dream known as the Fiery Furnaces. Due to similar location (Brooklyn, NY), analogous lineup (girl/guy dynamic with guy serving as the principal songwriter) and a striking sound (piano based, ostentatious pop) it’s an analogy bound to arise even in the smallest of critical dwellings and perhaps would hold some weight if the Please Dept. were not striving for something more: consistency.
While the Fiery Furnaces are occasionally content to drown themselves in a sea of overblown expectations ranging from ill-fated solo jaunts to screw ball, nepotistic efforts, Please Dept. remain prone to check their pretense at the door and know precisely when to say when.
A Fast One on Julian, the second self-released disc from this burgeoning Brooklyn duo in as many years signals a sojourn from the full band ensemble of their 2005 debut A Tin Can Handshake. Julian substitutes the conventional guitar, bass and drum dynamic for a more stripped down yet progressive electronic aura that co-exists with squeezebox joy. And at 11 tracks and clocking in at just 26 minutes, Please Dept. waste no time in getting straight to their own self-deprecating brand of educated pop.
Spacing itself out between cagey expositions (“You Are The Cop”), curious interludes (“A Hole in the Hip”) and three-minute thoroughly enjoyable full-length tracks Julian runs a strategic gamut of song structure and yields a remarkably spastic but pleasantly accommodating lot.
On “BPOP” a cascade of Casio fingered contortions and whiskey cheeked brightness follows around a narrative planted in wanderlust and inebriation featuring a character who is both desperate for attention and shy to the touch. “The Drift Is It” unleashes a mesmeric and narcotic love letter penned in the blood of an idle threat where our protagonist promises to “hold his breath until you hold me.” The fun with the Please Dep’t often lies in knowing where the joke stops and the sentiments begin.
With a vocal tic that straddles the line between the dramatic drone of Jonathan Richman and the snarky sarcasm of a straight-faced Stephen Malkmus, Hembre also utilizes fluctuating octaves and the occasional helping hand of art partner Georgia Kirtland to accentuate his sorrow and/or insanity.
Perhaps the tune that captures the strengths of the band best as a whole is “Sailor’s Mouth,” a gloriously memorable mess of both the ivory and black and fuzz plugged piano pieces anchored by programmed imperious beats and capped off with Hembre’s sly delivery. In the end, the Please Dept. want you to want them and with output like this it’s hard not to. In a borough brimming with first rate talent, Please Dept. are aiming to be the next big thing.