Review Summary: If Justin Vernon had locked himself in his grandmother’s attic instead of a cabin in Wisconsin, we probably would’ve gotten Inter-Be.
I hope with all my heart that Peter Wolf Crier isn’t one of those bands that get pigeonholed by their influences. It doesn’t really affect how the music is interpreted, true, but I’d hate for a duo with such genuine talent to become one of those groups that can’t go three words into a review without being compared to their predecessors (see: The Tallest Man on Earth). Comparing Inter-Be
to more seasoned artists such as Bon Iver and M. Ward is inevitable, if only because it’s already happened a dozen times over, but through every steady drum beat or wailed note on their debut Peter Pisano and Brian Moen are simply refusing to be classified. Therein lies Inter-Be’s
greatest strength--- Peter Wolf Crier doesn’t sound like a band trying to imitate any other artist--- they sound like Peter Wolf Crier.
If the basis of Inter-Be
was truly written, as Pisano claims, over the course of a single summer night, I truly would have loved to experience such a night for myself as the emotional depth and variety on the album is more than impressive. Pisano’s passionate vocals hit home from the first words of “Crutch & Cane,” a track that does little to dispel the Vernon comparisons (you can almost imagine a chorus of “my my my’s” at its conclusion) but endears itself to the listener immediately with it’s warm, head-bobbing beat. “Down Down Down” is more of a straightforward acoustic piece, but the bittersweet edge of Pisano’s chorus would sound equally welcome as the soundtrack for an empty bar or a crowded campfire. The first half of the chilling “Saturday Night” is a good taste of the band without Moen’s beats, making the moment when he joins Pisano at the halfway point all the more effective.
Even playing second fiddle to Pisano’s songwriting and vocal ability, Moen’s drumming provides the backbone that effectively separates Peter Wolf Crier from their peers. Highlights include essentially carrying the mid-tempo jaunt of “You’re So High” and proudly sending off the record in the final seconds of “In Response,” but rather than usurping the spotlight he works better playing off of Pisano’s moods. From the upbeat and nearly anthemic (“Hard as Nails”) to the more passionate and pristine moments (“Untitled 101”), the duo switches flawlessly from mood to mood while keeping the same sound--- minimalistic, yes, but with layers and layers of depth underneath.
In possibly the most absorbing moment of Inter-Be
, the finale of “In Response” right after the album has reached its final climax, Pisano and Moen slowly strip away every layer of themselves until there’s nothing left except a single ambient chime. This is possibly the best example of Peter Wolf Crier work--- calculated yet raw, alternating from inviting to abrasive with merely an acoustic guitar and a drum. Pop harmonies in tracks like “For Now” abound throughout the record, but never to so great an extent that the band loses their personal feel. Inter-Be
isn’t perfect, but it’s a bold and comfortable first step for a band with endless potential in front of them, and might just turn out to be the debut album of 2010.