Pedals On Our Pirate Ships – A Place To Stay

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Pedals On Our Pirate Ships

A Place To Stay - Say-10 Records

The superbly-acronymed Pedals On Our Pirate Ships want you to know they’re reluctant to grow up, but they’re settling anyway. Eschewing the banjo and harmonica for a traditional punk setup plus synth,Pedals On Our Pirate Ships has landed in a place better suited to their vocal style than previous releases. They’ve also created their most energetic and interesting music yet, on an album easily matching any midlevel folk punk release this year.

To say the band is proud to hail from Richmond doesn’t quite capture it, but for Pedals its fellow bands’ fleeing the city makes an apt metaphor for growing pains on opening track “Livin’ the Dream.” There,Pedals confronts one of the big lies of our youth: that a new city solves all problems. There is an essentialism to every Pedals track, that everyone lives with inescapable flaws. That theme gets wrung out pretty thoroughly in the course of this album, but its heights of story-telling, particularly “Side by Side” and “A Light at the End of a Tunnel,” prevent it from going stale.

While those stories are standard fare for the genre, drinking and lonely nights and other incarnations of young American’s fatalism, the band’s vivid lyricism leave no question as to its sincerity. “Knives” features jarringly apt descriptions of friends trapped in Amway scams, and anyone who knows the jarring feeling of going to work the day after a funeral will feel it again on “Tom’s Song.”

A simple, harmonizing keyboard plays a major role in developing the album’s sound, imposing a kind of seriousness on Place to Stay its simple guitar chords may have been unable to pull off on their own. Similar releases like this year’s Mixtapes falter on this point, and this simple addition to a standard setup prevents some more self-indulgent tracks from running off the trails.

With Fake Problems poetic sensibility and an ax to grind with growing up like Andrew Jackson Jihad, A Place to Stay is the album the angsty DIY punks have been waiting out the year for. With a greater level of focus and more interesting stories to tell than than last year’s CollectionPedals has come into its own and pulled something rather the opposite of a sophomore slump. Whether Richmond’s punk scene is ripe for revival is uncertain, but with bands like these it can only be well on its way.