No top songs.


Contrary to their name, which suggests they're some kind of forgotten Merseybeat outfit from the mid-'60s, Reading five-piece Pete & the Pirates have built up a formidable live reputation thanks to a sound which borrows from the post-punk scene of the early '80s and the cynical bedsit indie of the Smiths. Produced by Brendan Lynch (Paul Weller, Primal Scream), their second album, One Thousand Pictures, ramps up the gloom with 13 bittersweet reflections of everyday life that make Morrissey seem like an eternal optimist. Indeed, the carefree jauntiness that defined their 2008 debut, Little Death, is largely absent here, with only the jangly indie pop of "Motorbike," the short sharp burst of Dandy Warhols-esque garage rock on "Little Gun," and the soaring anthemic chorus on the ode to drinking culture, "Come to the Bar" providing any respite from the slightly doom-laden vibes. Pathos-laden it may be but it's an approach which seems more suited to Thomas Sanders' deadpan Home Counties tones, whether they're narrating tales of twisted romance such as the yearning, emotive closer "Half Man Street" and the bouncy fuzz rock of "United," throwing a nod to David Lynch on the gothic surf rock of "Cold Black Kitty" and the atmospheric drone of "Shotgun," or unexpectedly embracing flashes of electronica on the quirky synths of opener "Can't Fish" and the bubbling Moroder-ish riffs of "Winter 1." The abrasive Stranglers-inspired punk of "Blood Gets Thin," whose instrumental forms the basis of the pointless "Reprise," and the formulaic angular rock of "Washing Powder" are perhaps just three downbeat offerings too many. But while One Thousand Pictures risks alienating the Pirates' cult following, it's a convincing, if sometimes cheerless change in direction which, in the wake of White Lies and the Vaccines' success, could well see them break away from the periphery of the indie scene. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

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