Pinebender – The High Price of Living too Long with a Single Dream

The High Price of Living too Long with a Single Dream

I am so grateful that this is a good CD for a couple reasons. First is the obvious one that no one wants to be subjected to aural dog shit and then go into about 300 words of how bad the aural dog shit stinks. The second reason I am grateful is because the liner notes and cover art look so nice and inviting, and the photography of beaches so soothing, that it would be a complete let-down if this sucked. This had potential to be the biggest case of false advertising since Compassionate Conservatism.
But no, thankfully, like a drag queen on karaoke night, Pinebender has brought its A-game. At times the music is subdued, spacey and sparse. Conversely, it can come crashing with melody and loud fuzzed-out guitars. Could it be the first successful combination of shoegazer rock and emo? It’s got my nomination. Thankfully though, Pinebender manages to escape the pitfalls of either genre.
Shoegaze often is a type of music appealing to the disaffected and pensive and can be prone to eight-minute droning opuses that effectively take the listener nowhere. Pinebender does have its longer tracks (average length about six minutes), but they don’t come off as unnecessary self-indulgat complete with studio gimmicks. And they are actually interesting, no doubt in part to frequent use of guitar solos placed back in the mix rather than upfront begging for attention.
And if you are reading this site, then I will assume you know the potential and magnitude of emo sucknificance (unbelievably this is also not actually a word!). I could write 2,000 words about the mall-emo off-key whined vocals. Yet Chris Hansen’s voice is neither whiny nor mock falsetto. His spacey detached delivery is somewhere along the lines of Matt Talbot (of Hum) or Stephen Brodsky (of Cave In), which perfectly matches this music that is often drenched in reverb, fuzz, and the occasional guitar screeches. Pinebender also avoids the clichés of the loud/soft/loud dynamics and trite over-usage of angst. The band opts for more subtle buildup and release of frustration.
And when the band is on, Pinebender is really on. The most upfront and driving track, “Well-Calibrated Moral Compass,” is also the shortest on the disc. The aggressive guitar fuzz and Hansen’s emotive vocals convey an overt sense of melancholy. It’s a winner, but “For the Love of Everything,” a majestic wall of sound, is the band’s vision realized. Everything seems to have fallen into place with a song that alternates between being vaguely eerie and joyous. The most pleasing aspect of both these songs – and the rest on this disc – is that underneath all the fuzz and feedback, Pinebender shows a knack for writing a song that is memorable and poppy.
For a band that has seemingly come out of absolutely nowhere, Pinebender has managed to immediately impress. The High Price of Living too Long with a Single Dream is one of the best underground rock records of the year.