Days Of Delay
54 40 Or Fight!
s it possible to be accidentally menacing? I would guess no, myself, but if you can, Portland trio Pseudosix have cornered that particular market. From the way singer Tim Perry calmly sings “I don’t like your jokes, and I don’t like your apathy/None of that weight is of value to me”, to the hallucinogenic repetition of ‘Chasing You Down’, Pseudosix’s debut effort of vaguely rootsy, hushed indie rock remains disconcerting from start to finish.
Perry’s Neil Youngisms serve the band well, especially as he doesn’t seem to be stretching for them, and on the more insistent tracks like ‘Run Rebel’ the band swings more than one might expect from unsteady singalongs like ‘Hazardous Movements’. Overall, though, the feel is of a humble band playing away in one corner of a dive bar, late at night, while everyone ignores them and continues drinking.
Their bio at 54 40’s website likens them to Songs: Ohia and My Morning Jacket, both of which seem like fair comparisons. In fact, the band does best when it pitches its tent half way between the two, as on the brief ‘The Next One’ or the almost hymnal reprise of ‘Hollow Abyss’ that closes the disc. Pseudosix never exactly “rock out” the way MMJ occasionally do, but if you take that bands’ nocturnal ‘Just One Thing’ and strip it of the glimmering strings you’ve reached a fair approximation of parts of this album.
Another thing working in Days Of Delay’s favor is its diversity. Running through 14 tracks in just under 40 minutes, with nine of them lasting less than three minutes apiece, Perry and co. move restlessly from one hook to the next without letting any of them grow stale, but pull off the difficult trick of also not moving on too fast; all of the songs here feel complete, no matter how short they are.
But it all comes back to that menace. Similar to the feeling exuded by Calla’s recent Televise album, Pseudosix give off the impression of danger, but not necessarily physical danger. Like being trapped in a room with Bill Callahan, your hosts make sure you’re comfortable and ease you into sleep, but you want to stay awake in case they turn on you. Pseudosix differs from Callahan, though, in the way that it sometimes seems that they’re just as menaced by their music as the listener is (‘Center, Empty Circle’, ‘Put Your Back To The Sun’). On these songs, Perry sounds trapped as well, singing to keep himself awake so the things out there in the dark will stay away.
This phenomenom is, of course, ultimately intangible, irreducible to any given couplet or guitar line. But it elevates Days Of Delay above similar efforts, and by the time the sweetly melodic ‘Hey Revenge’ starts, you’ve traversed more territory, and had more fun, than most albums of this type boast.
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2004-01-12