Pohgoh – All Along

All Along

My favorite release of the summer so far is composed of songs entirely recorded between 1994 and 1998 by a band long since broken up. Sure, it’s strange to enjoy an album by a rather obscure band from the mid-90s so much in 2005, but All Along shows that Pohgoh deserved more than its share of attention.

I used to hear folks talk about Pohgoh as one of the rare emo bands with a female singer. But when I tracked down the band’s full-length, In Memory of Bab, I didn’t think the band sounded emo as well. Despite the personal and introspective lyrics, Pohgoh’s guitar-driven style was more pop to my ears, more Velocity Girl and Superchunk than Mineral and Sunny Day Real Estate. But this album will let you judge for yourself.

All Along compiles essentially all of Pohgoh’s songs, completely remastered. You get the entire In Memory of Bab full-length, “Friend X” from Deep Elm’s Emo Diaries comp., and songs from 7”s released with Braid, Discount, and others. It’s the band’s entire career, spanning the time Susie Richardson lent her gorgeous vocals and guitar to the band, as well as songs with the band’s original singer, Kobi Finley. You couldn’t ask for a finer retrospective.

The band’s finest work – both in maturity of sound and production values – is undoubtedly the songs from In Memory of Bab. “Tell Me Truly” is a fantastic rocker, taking the sweet Velocity Girl sound up a notch on the rock factor. Blazing guitars mix nicely with Richardson’s sweetly sung vocals on “Tired Ear,” a trademark of the band’s sound. Some songs are sweet, like “Megaphone Mouth” and the truly wonderful “All Along,” and some are fast and loud, like the blazing chorus of “Chapel of Ghouls.”

Some of the non-album tracks are slower, prettier. “Goodnight, Sweetheart” from the split with Braid couples that sweet sound with some amazing guitar work and some of Richardson’s best vocals. “Closer to the Truth” is a catchy early rocker from the band, and though Finley’s voice didn’t quite match the soaring quality of Richardson’s, it mixed with the band’s early style quite well. “Kandy Koated Cisses” is a cute, more poppy song, while “Red Lights Mean Go” is all-out from the beginning, with Richardson lending a bit of attitude to her vocals. And the cool echoey effects to “Look Out” make it another unique approach by this talented band.

I admit it: I love Pohgoh. Richardson’s voice was so perfect for this style of music, I sought out her next project, Maccabees, and highly recommend that band as well. But this was music of a particular period, filled with clever hooks and personal lyrics, impeccably well done and wonderfully remastered. This one is highly recommended.