There probably isn’t much I need to tell you about Poison Control Center’s most recent, Stranger Ballet. After all, it’s been out on Afternoon Records since early June. I usually try not to cover the same stuff a lot of other people are. I’m actually surprised not to see more press love on this album (not that it’s been ignored either), considering how deservedly well loved and respected this band is in my area, and the amount of coverage last year’s ambitious double-album Sad Sour Future got. All the lovable qualities of this group’s scrappy indie guitar sling — big old-school pop hooks, Lips nerdery, Pat Fleming’s distinctive wail (seemingly the only guy who’s not a Danielson that can pull it off properly), songs that remind you that there’s more to these guys than the rafter-hanging, upside-down guitar solo stage antics, however fun those may be; the likeability, positivity, determination — it’s all here, in a lighter dosage, easily digested in a sitting but no less satisfying, and with a noticeable amount of growth and some fresh surprises. New elements include a couple moments of Strokesy nonchalance; a few experiments and added sonic elements that work very well: a guest vocalist or two, a dab of mellotron, and a generous helping of pedal steel all over side B; and a couple really deep moments of heart, especially in the last couple songs. Lyrical elements recur like this is a concept album: born-on date, we are all stars, etc. The unifying concept it suggests is one of the relationship versus the road. It’s a well-worn subject but PCC are really experiencing it, perhaps for the first real time, as this album grew out of months of touring following the release of Sad Sour Future, itself just the first act of a period of touring nearly all of the past year up until about last weekend — so their perspective on it is fresh and firsthand. Stranger Ballet also shows that, for as audacious as Sad Sour Future was, it was only PCC hitting their stride; they’ve probably got the chops to pull off a whole career of these albums and keep us all happy and interested for years to come, if they want to. Last year’s album was ambitious in scope, but this one is ambitious in the details, and it succeeds equally well.
The story begins with teenage me purchasing a homemade cassette tape that caughtmy eye in the record store I then frequented. Its title, ...… Continue reading