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PJ Farley - 'Boutique Sound Frames' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     September 04, 2016    
 
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A record for those times when you want music to gently knead your shoulders rather than slap you in the face.

Don't mix him up with the similarly named female Art Rocker PJ Harvey. The Trixter bass player steps out from the shadows and into the spotlight on his first solo disc.

For starters, this doesn't sound like Trixter. It has a mellower feel and the sound owes more to Rock artists of the nineties than the big Hair bands of the eighties. This is music for when you're coming down, unwinding, and finding some shade from the sun, rather than music for pumping you up for the weekend. The songs have a bassy Pop Rock backbeat that gently throbs through the record. Over the top PJ Farley shows he has a good enough voice to carry the project, adopting a confessional approach on verses and picking it up for the nagging hooks.

The reason it feels more nineties is the lyrics, and PJ Farley's voice possesses some of the melancholy that a lot of bands exhibited in that decade. Many of the songs seem to address that stage in a relationship when things are falling apart and someone's walking away. It has a bittersweet quality due to the juxtaposition of the whispered heartbreak lyrics with the honeyed Rock hooks.

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The songs were written over a ten year period so it can't be accused of sounding rushed. What is surprising for a record spanning such a long time is how similar it is stylistically. There are some neat Power Pop songs on here. 'You Stick Out' is the kind of Pop Rock that Rick Springfield specialises in, and it would have been a stronger opening song than 'Take It Straight'. 'Ain't No Good' is Beatles-like with a playful Rock 'n' Roll undertone. 'Suckerpunch' has one of the biggest hooks, a dark song that sounds like drowning but is an album standout. 'Vow' is a great deal like The Gin Blossoms, and 'What You Do' isn't a million miles from Matchbox Twenty or Toad The Wet Sprocket. There are a few guests on there too such as his fellow Trixter, Steve Brown, who adds a good solo guitar on 'The Afterglow'.

It's a cool side project, obviously a labour of love, different enough from Trixter but with some of the same Pop sensibility that might appeal to fans of the band. This is a record for those times when you want music to gently knead your shoulders rather than slap you in the face.

Duncan Jamieson

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