October 16, 2003

Pesky "An Effort to Do Good"

In an effort to do good, Pesky's effort to do good is a good example of a good young band in their formative, salad-days years. It's the sound of a band who's young but daily growing and though their age and youthfulness might pose a bit of a problem for some, it's nothing I can't dismiss with a "there, there, you're just a kid, you'll grow out of it soon." For instance, Pesky's fun and not quite tight, but they're not terribly sloppy, either. They're young, remember?
Still, I like An Effort To Do Good's quirky and quarky take on indie-pop and new-wave pop; it's charming, pure and simple.

One issue stands out, though. When a band covers a great song, it's usually a tell-tale tribute to that band, and it's also pretty safe to assume that said band is an influence. Now, when a band covers two songs by the same artist, it's a different story. That said, there are two Stephin Merritt covers. Interestingly, though, Pesky doesn't really sound like they're influenced by Merritt, and their covers don't sound much like the originals. Well, the first one, "Candy," does, simply because of the unique melody/vocal line of the original. The other cover, "No One Will Ever Love You," sounds like a long-lost Blue Oyster Cult outtake, with killer harmonies and a melody line that's reminiscent of "Don't Fear The Reaper."

Sadly, though, the rest of the album's not quite up to Merritt's standards. While several of the songs are good--in fact, most of them are--it just seems as if Pesky's not quite strong enough to give the songs the extra kick that would make the hooks stand out, and there's a sameness that's quite obvious. Still, songs like "30 minus 31," "Building Houses" are nice, and the closing ballad, "In Our Heads," is a real keeper, too. Though these songs might not be technically great--a little more experience would tighten these songs up quite quickly--they're poppy and fun and charming and at the end of the day you can't help but like Pesky.

Even though Pesky's not fully grown yet, they're pretty cute right now. Give them time, a few tours, and maybe hiding that Stephin Merritt fixation, and the future could look quite bright for these Pesky kids. I'm sure that their next record will make this one pale in comparison. Still, props are to be given for one thing: they're an interactive band; go to their website, www.closed-system.com and you can download and polish and remix and make these songs to your order. You can have fun with Pesky on your computer, and I'm sure they wouldn't mind!

--Joseph Kyle

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