Pangs – Stalemates and Sad Pastimes

Stalemates and Sad Pastimes

Okay, my first beef with this release is the band’s claim that “Pangs refers to their unique, undefinable sound as new/no wave rock, a blend of indie pop with 60’s pop and the sonic density of My Bloody Valentine circa Loveless.” What? Maybe this statement was for a different band, because I hear none of those things when I listen to Pangs’ latest album, Stalemates and Sad Pastimes. A word to bands in general: NEVER name-check My Bloody Valentine unless you have a rack of pedals and, oh, I don’t know, SOUND like My Bloody Valentine.
What Pangs plays is actually mediocre, jangly college rock, similar to Weezer, but without the nerdy charm that made them so successful. “Sonic density?” This is probably the thinnest, sparsest, most trebly indie-pop record I’ve ever heard. The guitar lines achieving an annoying high-end insistence, like that kid in the fifth grade that kept hitting or poking you until you just wanted to smack him or tell him to fucking quit it.
Another beef with this record is Matt Mair Lowery’s voice. Nasal and off-pitch, his whiny croon makes what might almost be a pleasant set of songs into an exercise in endurance. There’s nary a song on here where Lowery stays in tune. Maybe it’s his singing style, that weird swoopy scoop up to high pitches and the conversational tone on lower pitches. Either way, it’s not working. Perhaps it could be overlooked if the arrangements were less sparse. As such, there’s hardly anything to focus on except Lowery’s voice, which, quite frankly, doesn’t cut the mustard.
My third and final point: much has been made of Lowery’s lyrics, how smart and literate they are. I’m sorry, and maybe I just can’t get past the music, but the guy’s no Bob Dylan (or insert your favorite lyricist here). The lyrics are utterly devoid of any striking images (save for the nearly interminable “Predilections & Pill,” which offers a few sparks of near-genius), and this is brought into sharp relief when he repeats lines that aren’t necessarily the chorus.
I really wanted to like this release, but at most the only reaction I could manage to must was mild annoyance.