Hugs and Kisses #34: Pete and the Pirates Critical Acclaim


Pete and the Pirates

Hugs and Kisses

The Continued Outbursts of Everett True

THIS WEEK: Nautical Noodlings

Just how accurate are all those quotes record companies love to plaster across the front covers of albums, particularly from new artists? Of course, they’re sound bites, outrageously ripped from the original context, but still. Do they mean anything? It’s a thought that occurred to me — somewhat randomly — while admiring the docile, faceless monsters and hook-limbed creatures that adorn the front of the excellent new Pete And The Pirates album, Little Death.

“There’s life in Brit-guitar pop yet,” The Guardian, 4****

Heh. What occurs to me first is that, um, are the record company really trying to put across that this is a four-out-of-five experience, a second best, good but not vital, this splendiferous melee of churning guitars and brash emotion, this smart reinvention of guitar pop through Television, Flying Nun Records and beyond, this life-affirming, dancing shoes-bedazzling, grand opus? That is so wrong. (Not least: stars? Marks? What is this? A math test, a music critique or a reason to get out of bed in the morning?) Aside from that, well yes, The Guardian are kind of stating the obvious here but they’re perfectly correct to: although the Brit- prefix has me a little surprised… as opposed to what? I kinda thought that all guitar pop is based round the American/British models anyway, no disrespect intended. Or is it supposed to throw up a vague inference to Britpop — aarrggh! No no no! This music has way more to do with the dirty, rain-washed streets of Dunedin, NZ than any Cockney knees-up or foul-mouthed Mancunian.

“Perfect pop without the pretence,” NME, 8/10

See above. I’ve always been intrigued as to precisely what the 8 in this equation signifies: is it the reviewer’s pleasure? The sound quality? The competence of the players? The cover art? The number of notes in any given guitar solo? The median, when the rest of the week’s albums are taken into account? But still, this is a surprisingly evocative phrase from the much-derided UK magazine’s lexicon — “perfect pop,” in this case, taken to mean something the NME’s Morley/Penman axis defined/refined circa 1982 around the laconic fringes of Scotland’s Orange Juice, with a sliver of Chic thrown in. Meaningless, of course: but fine, if you don’t stop to consider the connotations, and I kinda like the “without the pretence” disclaimer, like Pete And The Pirates could have even considered being underhand enough to aspire to such an ideal. Being a fan of Orange Juice, Chic and indeed Pete And The Pirates, this is the quote I favour most: I just wish I didn’t have the nagging suspicion the NME has used this exact phrase to describe 1,000 other guitar bands the past year.

“Unique and thrilling,” Q ****

Another example of the dashing erudition one has come to expect from the UK’s leading rock magazine.

“Brashly romantic punk pop,” Time Out 5*****

Let’s take a look at the checklist. Brash: yep. (Pete And The Pirates are both youthful and filled with a quiet self-belief, rely on The Song but know that The Sound is as important.) Romantic: certainly. (Pete And The Pirates are as tender as a tugged-away daemon.) Punk: absolutely. (Sixth song in, ‘Knots’, and the guitars lash and lacerate in a maelstrom of seething emotion.) Pop: well, we’ve discussed this one already. Yep, this pull quote certainly ticks all the right boxes. Only slight downside is: that 5***** looks like a swear word asterixed out.

“A debut album that restores your faith in the desirability of free-spirited punk pop,” The Sunday Times

Yeah, yeah. We’ve had this one already, just without the five-dollar words: although, “restores your faith in the desirability…”? Are we talking property locations or a handful of unassuming young man making stunningly great pop music? Someone needs to point someone else in the direction of the précis. Fair play, though: The Sunday Times, being the hi falutin’ broadsheet that it is, probably pays a lot more for the word than Q (say).

“Stunning,” The Sun.

Succinct. Red tops don’t hold much with casual badinage.

Hugs And Kisses Top 5

More songs Everett True likes

1. The Ting Tings, “That’s My Name” (from the forthcoming album We Started Nothing)
As bounced around to by my three-months-shy-of-three-year-old son Isaac: some old school female rapping matched to a 2008 beat…all they need is a bit of Gary Numan in the chorus and they’d have it made.

2. Missy Dee & The Melody Crew, “Missy Missy Dee” (from the compilation album Don’t Stop)
Another awesome collection from The Numero Group, this one features a bunch of lavish 12-inchers from the last days of disco (1981-83) on Tap Records, this track features the pioneering rappers Missy Dee…who in ’81 seriously come close to kicking Grandmaster Flash’s ass.

3. El Perro Del Mar, “Glory To The World” (from the forthcoming Memphis Industries album From The Valley To The Stars)
I’m a sucker for (children’s instrument) the recorder, when properly used.

4. Kelis, “Milkshake” (from the Virgin album The Hits)
Still pretty much my favourite pop moment of whatever damn year it was.

5. The Dirtbombs, “They Have Us Surrounded” (from the In The Red album We Have You Surrounded)
Hey, think I can’t recognise a Poison Girls lift when I hear one? This is like the best straight ahead rock record I’ve heard since…um, the last Dirtbombs one. No real surprise there, then.