A while back i gave a favorable review to an EP by a Seattle band called The Purrs. They had a certain Verve influence that i found rather appealing, as well as some strong songwriting skills. A few months later i received this CD in the mail. It is The Purrs debut full-length, and it contains almost 79 minutes worth of music.
As an album it works. I have been listening to this disc a lot, and
i think that it really shows that the band has a lot of potential. Their songwriting
is strong, and they consistently craft catchy tunes with memorable hooks and
simple lyrics to scream along with in the car. The guitar work varies from
languid strumming to fuzzed out psychedelia, and the rhythms move the tunes
This is one of my favorite discs of 2005. I have listened to it innumerable times, and i will continue to listen to it. There are so many good songs here, but let me just go over a few of my favorites.
The first song on the disc, She's Gone, is a fun tune with a happy,
loping rhythm. It builds to a nice but unhurried frenzy in the middle, with
vocalist Jima really belting his lines. A nice start.
Up next is the title track, The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of. (Grammar
note: shouldn't that be The Dreams Our Stuff Are Made Of?) This
is a strange tune that still manages to be appealing. It is almost southern
-- a fiddle drones, and it moves at a comfortable 3/4 time, waltzing along
nicely. What makes it so odd is the use of unharmonized backing vocals. That
is, the backing voice is in a completely different key than Jima, and it creates
an interesting contrast. It does grate, but just slightly, but it also works
on many levels. An odd effect, but somehow they manage to pull it off.
Don't Stop Kicking Me Down gets off to a wonderful start with a long, slow guitar jam: one guitar chugging away in light arpeggios, the other whirring under a mass of distortion far in the background. Then the voice kicks in, and the tune grooves along nicely at an unhurried pace. It's a fun tune.
My favorite track on the disc might very well be I'm Leaving Today,
which starts with the wonderful lyric "Half a dozen ugly people are hanging
out in my living room. They'd gladly stab me when the lights go out..." A
brutal image, but apparently Jima hates his neighbors. Who knew? Anyway, in
addition to some wordplay about being sick of everyone you know, this tune
features some nice chiming guitars and competent slide guitar. Jima's voice
really works here, and his vocal interplay with the backing voices that are
buried in the mix is wonderful. The vocals, combined with the almost whining
slide guitar part, make for an excellent tune.
Those are, in my opinion, the best songs on the album, but there are a few other noteworthy parts of songs. For example, drummer Craig Keller really shines on Much Too Much, where he taps the drums in a positively upbeat and happy manner. Guitarists Jason Buchanan and Jason Milne do a very good Church impression on Taste Of Monday with their two guitar parts combining to remind me of the work of Koppes and Wilson-Piper on Forget Yourself. The two Jasons also do a good job on the long noisy jam that closes the album, the aptly titled Seattle Dept. Of Fuck You.
This is good, solid rock music. There are hints of many acts that have come before in what The Purrs are doing here. At times i can hear a bit of The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Verve, and yes even the ever-popular Echo
and the Bunnymen. This is rock music to be played loudly in dingy bars. It is guitar work to blare at maximum volume with the windows down as you sail down the highway. It's loud catchy stuff to play on the stereo as you bounce around your home.
However, i can see how this would fail to appeal to some people. Jima's voice is kind of high in the mix, and he does kind of whine a bit. Also, despite my enjoyment of what The Purrs are doing here, i have to admit that it's not particularly innovative. That is to say, they are a rock band making a rock album, and honestly i own hundreds (thousands) or such albums. So: if you like your music edgy, or your singers to have darker, huskier, deeper voices, then The Purrs might not be for you.
I, however, am very impressed. I wonder what The Purrs will do next? I also wonder why they aren't on a label yet...