April 15, 2004

The Pines "True Love Waits, Volumes 1 & 2"

Pam Berry has one of those voices--one that's heavenly and seductive and sweet and charming and just downright beautiful. She's been in way too many bands, collaborated with even more and has left a trail of crushed-out indiepop boys in her wake. Though she's not been as ubiquitous as she was a few years ago, The Pines is her latest project, and consists of her and Joe Brooker, a thick-accented bloke whose rougher edges compliments the lovely Ms. Berry's singing quite nicely.

The only problem with the otherwise lovely Pines is that they've released several beautiful but slightly hard to find singles and have yet to actually release an album. The closest we're going to get to a full length is True Love Waits, a two-part, five song EP set, released on two separate labels. Apparently the reason for this division was because the songs are 'different' in nature. That may be the case, but the differences aren't so shocking that the two records couldn't have been combined.

Volume One, which was released by DC label Foxyboy, is the more sedate of the two. While 'Pam Berry' will never precede the phrase 'rocks out,' it's not to the detriment of the music. For Volume One, it's clear that they're playing around with their folkie sound. The songs here have a early Sixties folk style, but they're not especially what I'd call retro. "A Rainy Day" has a gorgeous sample of a rainy day welded together with one of Berry's better songs. "MGM" is a boy-girl duet; it's a love letter to the film company, and it's Sonny & Cher for the romantic and square. Also beautiful is the Beatlesque "You Don't Say."

Volume Two, released by Matinee, is much more traditionally folk-sounding of the two, but it's a bit more indiepop than the first. From the very first notes, it's obvious that Joe and Pam are in a more playful mood than the first EP. "Ungrammatical" is a fun and lovely little pop song about a boy who's proper when it comes to grammar but is a bit more peckish in the ways of love. It's a funny tune but it has some utterly breathtaking boy-girl acapella singing. "Anita O'Day" is as close to a dance number that The Pines will ever get, and I still can't help but dance around when I hear it. "The Rest" is easily Joe Brooker's best-ever song, as his rough-around-the-edges singing and heavy accent is the one thing that makes it magical.

So we may not get a full-length album from The Pines any time soon--if ever, but that's OK. These two little records are worth seeking out, and when you play 'em together, you'll be quite happy indeed. (Maybe Matinee should get all those other Pines songs gathered in one place--but something tells me that won't happen. Oh well....)

--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.foxyboy.biz
Label Website: http://www.indiepages.com/matinee

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