Bland in D.C.
Release Date: April 8, 2016
It’s extremely fitting that a band making scathingly obvious social commentary would name themselves Puff Pieces. This Washington DC trio featuring ex-members of Antelope, Vertebrates, Caution Curves, Weed Tree & Edie Sedgwick pack a ton of punch in this sub 30 minute full-length. Fans of 80s punk bands like Devo and Minutemen will find themselves dancing along to the bouncy rhythms with staccato guitars punctuating overtop of them. This record is nothing but fun and catchy and yet overtop singer Mike Andre makes a series of valid points on topics like object accumulation (see the song of the same name), money (again see the song of the same name) and following the leader (“March of the Idiots”).
The thing that makes Bland in D.C. such an enjoyable listen is the deadpan delivery that Mike Andre uses. His singing is excellently paired with the striking guitar lines and bouncy rhythms that make up Puff Pieces music. Aggressive or exciting vocals would distract from the simplicity of the music, and the maturity shown by choosing instead to delivery in a simple but melodic way that almost sounds bored is perfect. When he’s singing “What a bore, what a chore, such a snore…” in “Money” it’s so spot on and wonderful. On more frantic songs like “Cash Register” or “Wondrous Flowers” the manic pace of the music is matched by the singing, but not in a way that is any more urgent than is absolutely required.
I do have a beef with the way the album ends. After meandering along through a pre-pop punk wonderland for the first eight tracks, Puff Pieces opt for a different and more aggressive guitar tone for the last three songs. These songs are good, but they present a striking difference to the first eight and just don’t fit together. Personally, I’d prefer to see this release split into two E.P.s (maybe a 10” and a 7”) so as to not have the disjointed nature of what seems like it could be two different recording sessions. I’m being picky here, but as a critic, I guess that’s my right.
If you are looking for something that will stick in your head for days Bland in D.C. is the record for you. Also, this was pressed on translucent gold vinyl, what could be better for an album criticizing the perils of consumerism? This record was recorded in 2014, I’m curious to see what will come from this trio in the future.
Reviewed by Rob 1340