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April 17, 2024

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Plaid Pantry Project
Hit Songs From The Service Industry (Catnip Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Led by Andy Pribhol, who plays bass, drums, and guitar on the majority of tracks, Plaid Pantry Project serve up clever lyrics with hook-filled pop to back them up. On this sophomore release, they (Andy in particular) proves that Plaid Pantry Project's music is capable of swelling pop moments that will leave you craving more.

The opening track, "Paul Westerberg," hints at one of Andy's big influences. Although not the most flattering song regarding the man that once wrote songs like "Fuck School," "Answering Machine," and "Bastards of Young," the infectious nature of the song gets you singing along within forty-five seconds. Ringing through the chorus, "Do you feel the same? Aging like James Dean," Andy questions Paul's current musical direction through shattering hooks and a gleeful bounce that is so sugary you won't even be thinking about anything besides having fun.

But, "Paul Westerberg" wasn't a one-off pop thrill. "Allegro" proves this album has much more to offer. Another bouncy number, the slippery guitar riffs slide through the song, and your mind, without any force or desire to take control. It just happens as they go about their business. Then there is the groove of the bass, which dances around in the song and your mind. Combined with Andy's serious, yet party-oriented vocals, and the hard-hitting action of the drums, the thump of the bass has no problem making waves inside your head.

"Abby Road" keeps the shining pop coming. This time around, though, the rock engine that has powered the songs up until know takes a back seat so Andy can turn it down a notch and concentrate on some lighter pop. Still filled with the hooks that glow throughout the album, without the faster rock pumping the music along, the song seems to lose something. The enthusiasm and charge to make you want to sing along just isn't there, and the bouncy spirit that vibrates through the previous tracks seems to be missing.

"Wait Till-You Will" suffers from some of the same problems. Although the guitars are chunky and ever present, and the rhythm section's muscle is flexed, the song doesn't seem to have the drive, or speed, that made the opening tracks so bright. The spirit seems to have left the music. Of course, even though the music doesn't have the same drive, Andy is still able to create clever hooks that will keep you listening, rather than turning the song off because you're craving the fast attack of the openers and not getting it.

Ending with "Refreshing," a song recorded by Andy at 4:16 a.m., the album takes on a different feel, but seems to gain back the crazy, all-out assault of the openers. Just Andy on an acoustic guitar, with a fog masking the music due to less-than-perfect recording equipment, the 'let-your-hair-down' approach to music is once again alive and well.

There is no question that Andy Pribhol has a knack for writing solid pop hooks. If there were, this album will send those doubts to their grave. Although the album seems to lose momentum halfway through, the pop hooks never leave. I'll give this album a B+.

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