I slipped the self-titled debut album from the Pale Young Gentlemen into my player and my world immediately turned into a black and white burlesque movie. I pictured Charlie Chaplin silently bouncing around the streets and into trouble at each turn.
The album kicks off with “Fraulein,” a song that has the Charlie Chaplin character (from my head) captivated by an exotic dancer. Reisenauer sings, “She will turn me down, but then at least know I’m around. And so I pine for mad Fraulein.” The next track, “Me and Nikolai” moves Charlie into pre-meditated murder attempt with a hot-headed, armed partner in crime.
Our character then starts finding a little peace as the album slows down on “Saturday Night” and “My Light, Maria” the latter of which could have been a Jeff Buckley song. Things pick back up soon enough and we’re bouncing around again on “Clap Your Hands” and a song called “A Shadow on the Wall,” which I’d like to hear Tom Waits sing. The album comes to a close with “An Appeal to Saint Peter,” which is laced with theatrics, anger and confusion in one’s search for life’s meaning in an unforgiving world. And finally, “Single Days” serves as the curtain call that allows us to watch our character stroll away confidently, with a wink and a smile; the skip back in his step.
The up-tempo pop tunes composed by this Madison, Wisconsin band are driven by guitar, piano, drums, bass and cello. Michael Reisenauer’s quirky vocals will have you drawing comparisons to Will Sheff or Chris Martin. To say that this album is simply good is an understatement. Pale Young Gentlemen are not just writing a new flavor of indie-pop. Instead they carve for themselves a new genre of music. Indie-vaudeville?
It’s difficult to describe their sound. Listen for yourself with an open mind. I’ve been listening to the Pale Young Gentlemen all week and I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun with an album. .