Album Review: Pete And The Pirates – ‘One Thousand Pictures’

They’ve left their indie beginnings to pen songs about death, domestic violence and shagging – and it’s great

In the deluge of indie pop that followed the [a]Libertines[/a] and [a]Arctic Monkeys[/a] whirlwind around 2005 – known today as Hurricane Pritchard – a few rough gems did fall to earth. One was 2008’s ‘Little Death’, the lo-fi debut from Reading’s [a]Pete & The Pirates[/a], a band so airy of melody, (seemingly) upbeat of mood and economics student of accent that they had to be also-rans. Few lingered long enough to realise that – like Animals That Swim, Clearlake and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci in the ’90s, or Stornoway last year – they’d quietly knocked out one of the indie albums of the decade, full of pathos, perkiness and pure pop perfection.

They weren’t going to be ignored second time around. No more four-track jangling, now they’ve adopted lustrous gothic strains for ‘Can’t Fish’ and Lynchian surf violence for ‘Cold Black Kitty’. No more songs about the difficulties of getting up in time for Coach Trip, now Thomas Sanders wraps his artless voice around alcoholism (‘Winter 1’), firearms (‘Little Gun’) and motorcycle sexiness (‘Motorbike’). The jubilant pop of ‘United’ even combines sex on the carpet with domestic violence, as if told by the neighbourhood Fritzl. No-one’s calling these psychos ‘bedwetters’ any more…

P&TP are out to take on cinematic emoters like [a]Band Of Horses[/a] and [a]The National[/a] at their own game, and ‘Shotgun’ even aims for the supernova mass of [a]White Lies[/a]. And while you might yearn for the simple yet stark multi-harmony pop of the debut’s ‘Bears’ or ‘Knots’, the chirpy jangles that were once P&TP’s forte (like ‘Motorbike’ here) now sound anaemic alongside the experimental ‘Winter 1’. ‘One Thousand Pictures’ is pop in a tar-pit – black and sticky, but wonderfully pure at heart.

Mark Beaumont

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