Pale Hearts, “Hollowtown”

cover - pale hearts hollowtownAll of Hollowtown, the debut release from Lawrence's Pale Hearts, sounds prettily depressing. This is a good thing, in that it's the rare release these days that manages to convey longing, want, need, or sadness without screaming and yelling. Pale Hearts express their emotions through plaintive songs which still manage to jangle and swing. It's spaghetti western via new wave -- not unlike Wall of Voodoo covering Ennio Morricone. The first track has some weird vocal issues, like they're way high in the mix, but the rest of the album sounds really good. Rob Gillaspie's leads in counterpoint with Melinda's backups really make it pop. Gillaspie's near enough to the key that it works. The harmonics of the guitar and her voice and the whole razor-throated croon he's got going on make for a nice bit of contrast. I really dig it, and I think this has the potential to be a really successful project for everyone involved, because Pale Hearts go to sad, rather than angry, for this one. Tracks like "High Plains Disko" -- which in both name and sonic execution sums up what really works for Pale Hearts -- are the highlights here. Those expecting a full-on garage rock yelping, hooting, and hollering will be disappointed, as well they should be. This is a different, far-more restrained beast than the past acts of Gillaspie and company. He's turned down the yelp a lot, making Pale Hearts languorous and a little dreamy, reminding me a lot of the Isobel Campbell / Mark Lanegan stuff. The release show for Hollowtown is Friday, May 24, at Frank's North Star Tavern in North Lawrence with JOCKS and Fake Surfers.