Record review: Be Like Pablo – The New Adventures [Stray Cat]

be-like-pablo-300x300So far the most interesting fact I’ve gleamed about this band is that one of them also teaches, which is a pretty good back-story for any aspiring artist if you wanna make it big.

Sting taught English, music and football at a convent school, where he was the only man on the faculty (gives ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?), Kiss bassist and all-round wanker Gene Simmons taught sixth grade in Harlem, Art Garfunkel was tutoring maths at Litchfield Prep when ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ was at number one.

Could this apply to upcoming indie pop five-piece Be Like Pablo? Could The New Adventures really live up to its title, not only taking the group to the next stage of their life as rockstars but elevating the world to a higher plane, bringing an end to war, famine, uniting all peoples and kick starting the next chapter of humanity through their music?

Well, no. Their music, while pleasant, is the musical equivalent of a 15-year old copping off his favorite bands set to the poems of a particularly weedy second year.

It’s cute, inoffensive power-pop pleasantness.

Also pleasant, I can’t imagine any band, except for maybe Travis, wanting to hear that they’re any of the above, but if that was the aim congratulations guys, everything’s pleasant here.

To be honest, you kind of know what to expect from the first minute of opener ‘The Things You Do’; it’s common denominator pop rock that would have reached a substantial audience had they been around in the mid-noughties, so you can’t blame them for trying.

With light-hearted and cutesy lyrics, Be Like Pablo desperately try and convince you that they’re shy shy and a bit quirky, but lovely people if you give them a chance.

Not much grabs your attention except for the songs that go a little deeper, specifically referencing girls (certain parts of ‘Oh! Emily’ and previous single ‘Julianne’ roll along with more than a dash of fun).

Any hint of conflict/excitement in the music or lead singer/ songwriter Ewen Watson’s lyrics doesn’t last for long, as ‘Oh! Emily’s opening couplet aptly demonstrates: “I’ve got brand new problems/they’re all under control”.

The mainstream bid ‘Without The Pain (feat. Kuda)’ is one of the better tunes, mainly because it’s a disjointed grunge-pop mess of a song that feels ever-so-slightly menacing as a result.

It’s also the kind of rap/sung collaboration I blame for putting pop music in its worst condition ever, as Watson’s shout-singing, synth player Karen Johnston’s passable vocals and Kuda’s phoned-in verses (i.e. the catchy bits) all get squashed into the same section.

And apart from a short guitar solo near the end, it’s all still so boring.
Elsewhere, ‘Love Is For The Living’ wastes its rocking feel by lifting the melody of ‘The Things You Do’ and using some crummy lyrical metaphors, while any momentum gathered by ‘Spirit of Adventure’ is derailed by ‘Someone To Love’ as Ewen Watson’s cuteness becomes too much to bear.

I mean, “No swear word has ever touched my lips”, come on.

I’m probably being a bit too harsh on poor old Be Like Pablo; it’s hard to hate them when their only crime is being uninteresting, like punishing a puppy for not being able to stand on its hind legs like all the other dogs.

And granted, this kind of pop rock nearly always translates better live, but the sad thing is I don’t particularly want to see Be Like Pablo after listening to this.

The sweet, misunderstood nerd at the back of the class image only works if the music is catchy as hell, but the sanitized production drains any passion from the instruments and makes sure nothing stands out too much, especially the riffs.

The vocals sound devoid of emotion as well; whether it’s an attempt to come across as articulate as possible or just her delivery, Johnston sounds like she doesn’t really want to be there, although it seems like she tries to excite some passion from her bandmates in ‘The Post-It Song’; ‘You don’t have to be polite”.

It’s a pity Watson apologises for this trait as opposed to resolving it: “I guess I’m just a lonely guy/with manners on my mind”.

That’s nice, but girls tend to go for guys with a bit of edge.

Words: Andrew Maguire

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