Pawnbroker: Sleep on Power Lines

Pawnbroker reminds you of the saying, “you’re either a Rolling Stones or a Beatles fan.” Which is to say, you love either kick-ass rock and roll swagger or earnest displays of pop intricacy. On their Facebook page, Pawnbroker state they are a collective influence of Rolling Stones meets Sly & the Family Stone, with the “weirdity” of Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead.

I really do not “hear” any of the above bands echoed in part or in pieces on Sleep On Power Lines, the band’s current offering. Maybe it’s just me, but that sort of description invites a lot of high expectations. I think perhaps the band’s FB page may be a victim of its own collective ideals? Perhaps there is a polite English snarl somewhere between the swirling and shifting chords that kick-starts the dancing, slinky romantic modality found throughout. Regardless of each band member’s intellectual or musical pursuits, perhaps they never need to be the Stones Sly Smashing Radio. They can be just as proud being Pawnbroker, the first step taken towards a brave new world, and a miasmic whirl of musical intent.

The keys to Sleep is the churning guitar soup, exampled to great effect in “Lovely Little Liar:” the sibilant gothic-glam vocal sexuality of singer Nicole Pierson, and the atmospheric rhythmic pursuit fill the wide open spaces leavened between every beat. The entire album sounds as though it were meant to be an experiment, but ultimately comes off as just plain creative. The songs on Sleep come off fresh and sexually appealing, with a familiar yet distinct-enough signature, and nary a dull edge as each song occupies a different point on the mood spectrum: from mellow to melodic to driven, from sordid to narcotic, and sometimes feeling delicate and gothically lovely. You will not fall asleep on this band.

John Quimond/