Pale Young Gentlemen: Black Forest (Tra La La)
Author: Genna Ord
Rating: 4.5/ 5
Starting something from the beginning is usually advisable, but I don’t regret hearing Pale Young Gentlemen for the first time on their sophomore album, Black Forest (Tra La La). I haven’t yet had the privilege of hearing their self-produced, self-recorded, and self-titled debut project yet, but it’s rising to the top of my to-do list with every listen I give to the band.
In a music scene where searching for that “unique” sound is becoming pretty common, it’s not unusual for indie bands to employ string instruments. Unlike many of today’s artists, Pale Young Gentlemen (evidently the three women in the band are unperturbed by the name) use theirs expertly. The Crook of My Good Arm is one example, starting off with a memorable cello riff that gives way to rollicking guitar. Violin is also prominent on the track, and Michael Reisenauer’s half-shouting chorus combines with the instruments to make a surprisingly energizing song.
Such typical instruments as the violin and cello aren’t the extent of it, though; the xylophone, harp, French horn, and flute all make appearances on the album. For a good part of the track We Will Meet, all you hear is Reisenauer’s rich voice over a beautiful harp melody. Though the band is from Wisconsin, the album has a 19th-century Europe feel that somehow manages to work perfectly and stay contemporary.
The combine of all these elements:– superb instrumentation, solid composition, and an almost whimsical feel—added to thoughtful lyrics make for an innovative, enjoyable album, the likes of which probably won’t be heard for quite some time.