Reckless Pedestrian, |
I've just escaped from a time warp. One Delirious Cocktail, and I fell into the radio stations of the '90s. It's not surprising; Reckless Pedestrian's album was released in 1996, and nothing's been updated. With a pop sound and rock sensibilities, the Pedestrians might seem to be an odd choice for the Magnetic Music label. But Magnetic has a history of finding quality performers in any tradition, including modern pop. The Reckless Pedestrians are a distilled '90s sound. Anyone who lived through that radio era will find themselves trying to remember where they heard these songs before. For no good reason, the likely answer is: nowhere.
The Cocktails (every song is labeled a cocktail) are all fine, funky songs, easy to hear and move along with. "Remember the Day" is a bright song of commiseration to someone whose romance is, finally, over, and a lament on the difficulty of finding love. "Last Bus Home" skips back past the '90s for a rather '80s sound. It sounds almost like an homage to the electro pop of that decade, especially with the synthesized background vocals. The instrumental "Pick Me Up" changes sounds completely, adopting a rather Gaelic style half covered by electric winds. It crashes to a halt before the a cappella intro to "Daniel O'Donnell," a cheerful song about the weather, corruption and lust for a bootleg album.
After the clever folk-rock of "Daniel O'Donnell," "Hangman" is unbearably slow, too angsty and drifting for the brief, painful story of hurtful love it tries to tell, and even the usually strong vocals waver and weaken. Fortunately, it's the low point of the album, which rebounds through "Personal Magic." Opening with a bar of old-fashioned, cartoon theme-type music, it grinds into a maddened, near-rock rant to a man who has pulled the loathing of his world around him. "Neversmile" plays again with the faded vocals and more relaxed sound of "Hangman," but a fast strumming guitar and simpler direction allow for a better result. But Reckless Pedestrian's most solid songs are upbeat tales of woe like "I Won't Cry," not breathless complaints like "Tattered Blues." The unnamed musical rant on track 12 blends both the approaches together for a laughably a cappella chorus and an almost suicidal vocal cry in a blending that is truly unsettling.
The Pedestrians have scattered and gone on to individual success. But Delirious Cocktail is available as a reminder of a band that managed, for a brief moment, to create very good music just a step out of its time. Somehow this album was passed over on its initial release; perhaps better programming will give these pleasant, clever songs the audience they deserve this time.