I’ll lay it out up top: Pale People are babes of Missoula’s own bosom. And they’re really good.
There’s a moment in any Dungeons & Dragons campaign when it becomes a “good” game. I call it the “Roundtable Moment.” It starts out as a silly idea to use the silliest excuse to do what you’d do on any given Friday anyway — get drunk with friends in someone’s living room and act like a bunch of dipshits. Before long, though, between the dick jokes and self-aware geek-in-a-locker references, you start getting amped when you roll a 20 on the dice. All of the sudden, those 4 or 5 pieces of paper, thinned by erasers and stained with buffalo sauce aren’t just “Eeli Chennault, Glim ‘Nanfoodle’ Zook, Randal Greycastle, Dorim Secondsword and Osborne Mudbreeze” anymore. No, no. They are now, “our heroes.”
When the Roundtable Moment occurs, you keep it to yourself. But it hits you. Hard. And it hits you good! All of the sudden, gameplay feels faster, more bracing, and it actually does feel like you’re on an adventure.
That feeling is pretty similar to the one I had for the vast majority of Pale People’s latest full length, Absent Friends. This album sees the band lighting a fuse on one helluva good time, precisely and deftly. Like turning surgery into a party.
This album sees the band lighting a fuse on one helluva good time, precisely and deftly. Like turning surgery into a party.
I don’t know what to call their genre, per se; it’s sorta like post-MacGowan Pogues if they swapped out one or two beers for one or two pieces of classic literature. My metaphor is apt, though, because it sounds a bit like bookworms with an excuse to cut loose (this is a VERY GOOD thing). Playful Shakespeare references are all over for anyone who wants them, but you need never have peeked ‘neath The Bard’s hosiery to enjoy Absent Friends. This record is fun, witty, rousing and energizing. You may get a little lost in the plodding wander of the last few songs, but the first ten thirteenths of the album makes it all way more than worth it. And, if that doesn’t impress you enough, the band recorded the last track (and title track), start to finish, in just one take.
Do yourself a favor: gird your loins and give Absent Friends a listen — it actually does feel like you’re on an adventure.
Watch Pale People’s new music video, for their new song, “Night Atlas.”