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Pepper - Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations (CD)

Pepper - Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations (CD)

Law Records

Review 3630 Views
Last Edited by: Chris MUG5 Maguire July 31st, 2008.

Pepper are based in Hawaii, and seem determined to hammer that point home, with almost every track on this album built on funky tropical rhythms. It may feel fresh and original for the first couple of songs, but the novelty quickly wears thin because 99% of the songs sound exactly the same. This wouldn’t be so bad if Pepper sounded like a holiday carnival when, in reality they sound like an afternoon spent relaxing on an Hawaiian beach.

Everything about ‘Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations’ is thinly spread, from the stop-start-stop-unnecessary-pause guitars to the lyrics, which frequently disintegrate into doo-doo-wop-oh-no-no-no jazz free-styling, until you being to suspect that they’ve actually just run out of things to say.

The lyrics also seem to wander wherever the rhymes take them, resulting in lines such as “seen her at the hotel bar/ but don’t ask Lucy why don’t she drive a car,” until it becomes unclear what the song is actually about. ‘Musical 69’ in particular is completely baffling.

Perhaps Pepper could get away with empty lyrics, if the music wasn’t so repetitive, and if it didn’t break off at every given opportunity. Stop-start-stop guitars only really work in angular-indie (a la Dirty Pretty Things) or experimental rock (Biffy Clyro) and ‘Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations’ is neither of these things. Often the all-too-frequent breaks occur in the most frustrating of places. The chorus of ‘Slave’ has been gathering momentum nicely and is on the brink of becoming catchy-as-hell, when the music cuts out, and all momentum is lost. It’s impossible to get caught up in songs that stop and start seemingly at random. Every fault on this CD seems ten times worse because Pepper stick to the same formula, repeating their mistakes time and time again, thrusting them in your face until they’re all you can see.

But, just when you thought you could write Pepper off, they throw a complete curveball in the form of ‘Wet Dreams'. A hazy and additive electro-rock number that sounds nothing like the rest of ‘Pink Crustaceans….’ The chorus is a dreamy swirl of distorted guitars and blurry vocals. Just when the distortion is on the brink of becoming too much, ‘Wet Dreams’ switches to clean vocals and spring-heeled drums, and then back again, keeping the song fresh.

‘Wet Dreams’ is the sound of a lazy summer’s afternoon captured on CD, and is the last thing you expect to crop up on an album of easy-going Hawaiian numbers. Suddenly, Pepper seem like a much more interesting prospect. ‘The Phoenix’ is another oddity, with its black-hearted chorus of vaguely Marilyn Manson-esque vocals writhing all over themselves. While the verses don’t quite go to that dark place that would better suit the brooding chorus, this is still the album’s second strongest song.

While Pepper seem to like sticking to the same formula, they have the ability to pull off a wide range of sounds, and it’s a shame they don’t venture out of their comfort zone more often.

‘Wet Dreams’ and ‘The Phoenix’ are definitely worth checking out, but don’t be fooled, the rest of ‘Pink Crustaceans’ doesn’t sound anything like these two tracks.

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