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Pit er Pat - Emergency

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Artist: Pit er Pat

Album: Emergency

Label: Overcoat

Review date: Nov. 22, 2004

Chicago three-piece Pit er Pat’s debut EP Emergency is a re-release of their self-released and distributed version, made when the band was known as Blackbirds. Originally the backing band for a singer who moved away from Chicago in 2003, members Rob Doran, Fay Davis-Jeffers and Butchy Fuego used the personnel change to shift the direction of the band’s sound, and have recorded a promising debut full of buoyant, danceable spurts. Both bassist Doran and drummer Fuego are seasoned veterans: Doran was a founding member of the Alkaline Trio, while Fuego has worked with a number of bands. Their tight, poppy rhythm work anchors classically trained Davis-Jeffers’ warm keyboard and organ playing, creating a pop sound with equal parts jazz and dub thrown in.

Davis-Jeffers sounds surprisingly confident in her singing, in spite of her apparent inexperience before taking over vocal duties. With a pitch and phrasing reminiscent of Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, her voice not only lightens the mood, but also seems to provide Pit er Pat with a sense of direction that their instrumentals lack. While both “Nick Those Prawns and Burn Them” and “The One Dot” are adventurous in their use of live instrumentation to mimic electronics, their chaotic structures create an uneasiness that doesn’t quite gel with Pit er Pat’s more upbeat, accessible songs.

Opener “Bog Man” manages to best combine Pit er Pat’s penchant for multi-directional melodies and catchy, hummable vocal lines. Unlike the instrumentals, “Bog Man” manages, through Davis-Jeffers’ vocals and narrative lyrics, to sound cohesive amid fragmentation. “Emergency” is more straightforward, built around a skipping bass-line, with a vocal line that follows the repetitive keyboard progression. “Too Many” is more blatantly loungee, built around a repeated, jazzy progression, with Davis-Jeffers listing, “Too many hospitals, too many deaths, too many meals, too many breaths...” for nearly three minutes, before breaking into a gentle coda that would not be out of place on a Pizzicato Five record.

If Pit er Pat can manage to synthesize their dichotomous impulses to make challenging and easily assessable music, they bare watching in the coming year. Emergency, in the meantime, is a small glimpse of a band refining their sound and creating some fine music in the process.

By Jon Pitt

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