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Shocking Pinks – S/T

DFA Records, 2007

A lightly appealing cover of a pencil sketch gives off the air of indie pop, yet the band name may disagree.  I know of a particular personal photo from my younger days where I happened to be wearing a pink Adidas t-shirt and, yes, a pink pair of swim trunks.  I was shockingly pink (but unshockingly lacking style … ah well, what can you do).  Therefore, this band’s moniker had a slight twinge of personal connection, so I had no choice than to pick it up.  I also promised to make a mental note to refrain from accidentally coordinating bright colored clothing concoctions in the future.  I will leave those for an eighties retro party.

Shocking Pinks are not shocking in their volume or their approach, but hey, it’s a fine band name for an indie pop outfit.  With its tone of low fi pop, the third album from the one man band Nick Harte is filled with songs that range from casual pieces of softness to fervent chaos.  I suppose one there’s only one person running the show there’s no reason not to do whatever that person wants.  It’s clear that Harte knows this well.

“Second Hand Girl” is a fantastic pop song that reminds me of some Slanted & Enchanted-era Pavement with its catchy guitar and the unimposing vocals from Nick Harte.  There’s only about eight lines of lyrics, so most of the song is made up of the band going at it and allowing the listener to create the visual story in their heads.  The lengthy “Cutout” instrumental tune is also quite good, if only because its quick and pretty collection of sounds doesn’t include any interruption from lyrics.

“Yes! No!” is at first engaging yet doesn’t execute well.  The brooding synthesizer tones, in conjunction with the consistent drum pattern, gives the tune an ominous feeling early on.  Unfortunately, Harte’s voice comes across as too hurried and whiny when trying to keep up with the song’s pace.  Combined with some uncomfortable sounds between verses makes this tune a “No!” for me.

One tune that struck me as something that Harte could excel at if he stuck with it is “You Could Make Me Feel Bad”, which combines his creative instrumentation as well as a good utilization of his vocals through subdued echos.  Indeed, the track sounds like a Jesus and Mary Chain concoction, but as the last track of the album it leaves a good impression of what Harte is capable of.  Actually, the entire record does.  It would be a matter of finding out which styles he prefers to hang onto from here on out.

Shocking Pinks have a MySpace page and, ah, that’s about it.  Well, maybe websites are passe.

I can appreciate a guy like Harte who is talented enough to play multiple instruments and compose pretty pop songs.  Not all of them are my thing, but I can see where someone who likes his somewhat fey voice and musicianship might like most of the record.  Shocking Pinks actually haven’t put out anything since this record, so it remains to be seen if Harte emerges with the same or a different group.  All I know is that I’m not emerging at any point whatsoever in my shocking pink outfit of old.  Okay, okay, show me the dollars.

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