Pela : Anytown Graffiti

<img src="" alt=" " />Brooklyn’s Pela rides down these streets on their driving debut LP, <i>Anytown Graffiti</i>. ...
8.7 Great Society

 Brooklyn’s Pela rides down these streets on their driving debut LP, Anytown Graffiti. Singer/guitarist Billy McCarthy and bassist/keyboardist Eric Sanderson met at the 7th Avenue Park Slope subway station in Brooklyn, but as the four-piece Pela, they give off much more the sound of the open road.  Following 2005’s All in Time EP and last year’s download-only Exit Columbia Street EP, they’ve stepped up to the full-length on Anytown Graffiti.

Leadoff track “Waiting On the Stairs” begins Anytown with a driving, haunting guitar-and-drums opening, and there might not be a more fitting way to introduce the record.  Evocative and impressive, “Waiting” echoes across an abandoned highway.  It’s followed by the catchy cool of “Lost To the Lonesome”, whose subdued but sweet expanse has an eighties New Wave ‘big sky’ element to it.  Pela definitely borrow from that decade, with the subsequent “Drop Me Off” really reminiscent of today’s ‘neo-New Wave’ sound, but hardly stay in that arena.  “The Trouble with River Cities”, for instance, goes smaller and quieter, yet retains the band’s essential pressing emotion.

Sometimes, however, Pela can go a little overboard with their feelings, such as on “Drop” or the touching, but a little emo, “Cavalry”.  But while the slow, building grind of “Rooftops” can be a bit overwrought, the preceding “Tenement Teeth” is pitch-perfect in its epic nature, yet still retains the band’s driving core.  But they don’t need the bombast to do so: there’s real emotion on the quiet-yet-orchestral “Your Desert’s Not a Desert at All”, and the pretty, swishing drums of the title track gives off a ‘getting out of this dusty, dead town’ vibe.

Anytown Graffiti ends where Pela began their journey, at “7th and 17th”, returning home to the sounds of children laughing and playing.  It’s a wonderful coda to this long trip down the avenues of America.

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