Pale Young Gentlemen
Black Forest (tra la la)


4.0
excellent

Review

by Lewis P. STAFF
January 31st, 2009 | 16 replies | 13,229 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Listen to me carry on, I am my mother's son, and a curious one.

Not one lick of praise, low current hype or press release blabber readied me for the surprise I found in Pale Young Gentlemen’s Black Forest (Tra La La). All the obvious aesthetics about the band’s hype painted a solid-but-borrowed sound that I was already sick of (and why to this date I have yet to hear Pale Young Gentlemen’s self-titled debut). And with another Andrew Bird on the horizon, well, this town ain’t big enough.

For two months now I’ve mulled over Black Forest (Tra La La) with an unexpected depth. The first listen proved my initial speculation founded, dark, deliberately paced baroque pop guided by a velvety-smooth wordsmith. It was great then too, a little gem lost in the year-end scramble, but I never forgot it. I pulled it out, compiled it through mixes, slowly fell in love with each track as their own entity and, in short order, their full form. On repeat listens, Black Forest (Tra La La) does many things but never all at once, and is only a “grower” by default; you’ll love it all at once but won’t know why for a while.

Singer Mike Reisenauer is the most obvious stronghold of the band, so effortlessly does he slide into the orchestration that it’s hard to imagine the guy fronting anything else. He’s dramatic and takes this stuff seriously, but his ability to glide from gruff baritone to falsetto gives the surprisingly poetic and powerful Black Forest (Tra La La) a considerable amount of depth. But Reisenauer is not carrying anything and this isn’t his album, and the Wisconsin-bred songwriters make the best of their sophomore effort, turning in a surefooted piece of 19th century European folk meets 21st century indie pop.

So yes, fit all your comfortably snug comparisons here; they’re all probably founded. Pale Young Gentlemen never court the idea that what they’re making is different and the confidence glows from the album’s opening moments, where we stumble to keep pace as three-chords speed out of the speakers. With a flourish of strings, Pale Young Gentlemen are seemingly quick to play their hand, and Reisenauer is bellowing before the first verse pulls away.

Just as quickly though, the song gives us a moment to pause, breathe, and it’s a neat trick, one they use sparingly and effectively. These song-specific quirks, little moments that turn every good song great, are an integral part of Black Forest (Tra La La) and what make it special, which is a tough act to sell considering Pale Young Gentleme regularly saddle into a waltz of Eastern European dance hall and modern indie rock, touching upon cabaret ballads and Victorian era folk-punk (or something) in the process. Or, rather simply: good music that works, effortlessly, and is even easier to love.



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Pale Young Gentlemen

Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2009


17920 Comments


ladies and gentlemen, the best

Kiran
Emeritus
January 31st 2009


6001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i wrote a review for this in like december but never posted it because it sucked a whole load of dick.
initial rating is a 3.5, have to go back to this though. never gave it a fair chance since i loved the debut so much.

rasputin
January 31st 2009


14544 Comments


Good review. This looks interesting but our tastes have conflicted before, I may still look into it though.

BallsToTheWall
January 31st 2009


44300 Comments


The concept of the band and the music itself has me sold immediately. Will look into this.

Digging: Tiamat - Clouds

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2009


17920 Comments


lewis could sell paper to a tree

rasputin
January 31st 2009


14544 Comments


He's a smooth operator. I'm still reeling from doubting his praise of Deerhunter, which was a huge mistake on my behalf.

scyther
January 31st 2009


1606 Comments


I'm reeling in fish.

BallsToTheWall
January 31st 2009


44300 Comments


Best user name ever. Welcome to the site #123.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
February 1st 2009


4950 Comments


hey look indie

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2009


17212 Comments


balls making me chuckle ftw. Album seems legit/will look further.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
February 1st 2009


3767 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Was looking forward to this review, album grows like nothing else.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

illmitch
February 1st 2009


5429 Comments


Baroque pop? Victorian era folk-punk? I want to hear this.

jrowa001
February 3rd 2009


8750 Comments


ill check this out

Shadowskos
March 10th 2009


352 Comments


myspace songs are pretty good. I hope i can get this album.

robin
Emeritus
August 9th 2010


4248 Comments


this is so great

robin
Emeritus
August 26th 2012


4248 Comments


i fucking love this album



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