Posted on December 1st, 2009 (5:30 pm) by D Arcy Benincosa

It leaves me feeling a certain sense of displacement knowing that as you read this music review, the band Pants Yell!, has already promised that they are no longer. The End. They’ve disassembled. Does their new album, Received Pronunciation, suddenly become a collector’s item? Pants Yell! consisted of Andrew Churchman, Sterling Bryant, and Casey Keenan. Meeting and performing within the walls of a Boston art school, in 2003 the trio released their debut album, Songs for Siblings. They have spent the last six years performing and producing a four album collection that combines into one unique repertoire.

The voice of Andrew Churchman, has been described by many people as shy. Perhaps it is more aptly described as understated (and not always in the best of ways). Often the guitars and rolling drums take the front seat, while the words coast along quietly in the background. The vocals swagger and shift between flats and sharps at various moments in the singing. Many times, when a singer dares to do this, it’s with such finesse that the listeners become endeared to the singer’s talent. Yet, on this album, Churchman misses the endearing mark by a hair, leaving the missed notes sounding a bit more like a tiny fly buzzing around your head that you swat at occasionally, but that doesn’t go away.

The best thing about the track “Cold Hands” is that it’s marked by a very catchy refrain, “Keep the love lines coming / I’m not afraid of any one place or thing / Keep the love lines coming.” Many might picture a phone line or a fishing line connecting two people in love. When listening to this song, I looked down and did a little palmistry. I saw that my love line on my left palm was a bit deeper and rugged than I remembered it ever being. It’s got some scars, but it keeps running deep and I keep placing that palm into someone else’s hand. My love line touching his, meshing together for a moment. Keep it coming. Yep, keep it coming.

The track “Got to Stop” questions, “Does that asshole ever tell you that he still thinks of Megan?” And, on a less literal note, it asks if you should feel sorry when you meet those special people who end up being a bigger part of your world than you were going to allow. And, if you are not sorry, then perhaps they can give you some advice about getting stuck in the trap again. “Stop what you’re doing.” How many times are you in a relationship with someone you know who isn’t capable of being in a relationship? Thus you take the high road and let them out of the relationship, only to find them going out and embracing a new one the next week! That’s where the emotion of this song comes into play. Yeah, you gotta stop what you’re doing. The song definitely preaches to the confused to stop messing with people’s hearts while in a state of not knowing what it is they want.

“Spider” adds some exaggeration to the album’s understated tone. It’s a short little song about the fear a person can have of a small little spider. While many won’t think it worthy of album placement, I actually liked it. “You better watch out / frost is coming soon / As scared as you are of me, I am of you / You’re the biggest thing I’ve ever seen.” How can something as small as a spider seems like the biggest thing that someone has ever seen? The small song reminds us of the life lesson of making mountains out of little molehills.

“Someone Loves You” sings out “I keep busy, I don’t fall to pieces. If you miss me, I’ll promise I’ll miss you.” The lyrics seem to be saying something a little different than the title. Doesn’t it sound a little more like, “Someone conditionally loves you?” The song ventures through a melody of lyrics that blatantly list the many of faults of the current man in her life instead of explaining or taking any responsibility for his own. Empty promises. Missing only when missed makes for an empty promise.

“To Take” makes a blunt statement that I think many people are too quiet to say, “It wasn’t yours to take.” It’s a bit of an existential crisis that reflects on each individual’s ability to take and not give and then to owe the person nothing. I found it sad, but with the same tune and sound that echoes throughout the tracks on the album; it is the best song on the record.

The group's sound is fluid and acoustic. It’s rich and pop all at once. It has a warm base, quiet vocals, and steady drum roll. And everything, at best, is working without trying. The album is short: only nine little songs. While an album should have a cohesive feel and sound, Received Pronunciation takes it to the extreme, and not in the best of ways. It’s worthy of a listen, and it’s up to your refined ear to decide how many more goes it will get on the old turntable. It’s had a few of mine, but nothing lasted in my head three hours after I turned it off.

Track List:
1. Frank and Sandy (2:39)
2. Rue de la Paix (3:20)
3. Cold Hands (3:00)
4. Got To Stop (3:10)
5. Spider (0:51)
6. Someone Loves You (2:32)
7. Marble Staircase (3:18)
8. Not Wrong (3:59)
9. To Take (3:14)

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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