Pinki Mojo – S/T

I have to admit that for a while, I wasn’t quite sure how to handle this release from Pinki Mojo. The band has a fairly contemporary pop sound going for it, with an unobtrusive rhythm section, guitars that see crisp and clean and anti-power chord (a la the Beatles), and a set of fairly impressive female vocalists in Melody Mason and Julia Mann. The songs are certainly tailored for the band’s sound, also, as most of the material here is based around Pinki Mojo’s strong vocalists and cleanly played guitar rhythms.
The downside, of course, is that the songwriting really comes off as almost TOO tame for most of this release. Now, from the point of view of a band, that’s really not a bad thing, since the point of a sound like Pinki Mojo’s certainly isn’t to wrench violent reactions like End It or Isis. The problem I have with that (as a reviewer) is that I really had to sit down and FORCE myself to pay attention to this disc. After about five complete attempts to listen to Pinki Mojo, I bet I couldn’t have made more than two honest-to-goodness observations about any part of the disc.
Why is that a problem? Well, because when I actually strapped myself down in front of the stereo to finally get this damned review finished, I really found myself impressed with quite a bit of this stuff. While I’ll be the first person to admit that Pinki Mojo’s style isn’t exactly something I voluntarily expose my ears to on an everyday basis, I’ll just as quickly point out that this band certainly has its sound down pat.
The songwriting may come off a bit on the ‘lazy’ side at times, but the band does an admirable job of covering for that with the diversity in the output. “Fall From Grace” and “Falling Down” are straight-up rockers (think Heart in the late 70’s) with some pretty impressive fretwork from the guitar players, while “Forever Night” tosses a keyboard melody into the mix to bring a catchy pop influence out of an otherwise random bar-rock number. The lyrical content to “Better” is a bit on the ‘preachy’ side for my tastes, but there’s no denying that the simple little clean-tone rhythm guitar bit is catchy as all get out. The girls’ vocals shine on the chorus as well, as even without a swell of guitars backing them up, Mason and Mann’s vocals manage to single-handedly raise the chorus head and shoulders above the rest of the track.
“I Had a Dream” is a tame, though catchy bit of bar-rock, while “Obsession” shows off the band’s ability to pull off a solid contemporary pop ballad, complete with soft piano intro, delicate rhythm guitars, and a deliberate build into a radio-friendly crescendo. “Indigo Horses” is a sweet little acoustic-tinged number that vaguely recalls The Sundays, and while it’s a bit on the nondescript side, “Man in the Moon” has a pretty catchy guitar groove working for it. The biggest surprise on the disc, though, is how well the terribly up-beat and incredibly out-of-place pop-ska number “Believe in Yourself” comes off. The lyrics are a bit on the overly optimistic tip, but everything from the beat and the horns to the cool, calliope-esqe organ work just clicks on this album closer.
Admittedly, even the most generous listens produced a falter or two, namely with the reggae tinged “You Got Me,” which just never gets on track as well, as the aforementioned “Believe in Yourself.” “Going Under” is a quiet ballad-turned-fierce rocker, though the song trips a bit on it’s own feet thanks to an uncanny riff resemblence to Heart’s “Barricuda” and some misguided male backing vocals during the chorus.
In all honesty, I usually wouldn’t be quite so generous when reviewing a band like Pinki Mojo. However, there are no gimmies in this review – after repeated listens of this disc, this material most definitely earned its way towards changing my mind. The band members are obviously talented (various members have worked with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Mick Jagger, David Gilmour, and REM), and while the songs do still seem a bit on the tired side, Pinki Mojo’s got an infectious energy that really shines through after a few listens. I get the impression that a live Pinki set would come off better than these recordings, simply because it seems at times like the band is purposely holding something back with the mixes here. Still, this effort is commendable. Recommended for folks that aren’t too ‘cool’ to like catchy, contemporary radio rock.