[21 November 2010]
Already known extensively for their touring prowess on the jamband and festival circuit, the Heavy Pets take a big leap forward on their eponymous sophomore studio CD. While the band’s studio debut, Whale, was a sprawling double disc of improvisational jams cultivated and recorded between 2005 and 2007, nothing here clocks in at longer than 5:21, eschewing the jams for a more polished—yet still raw—pop-styled sheen. Opener “Drenched” is a love song awash in bouncy, vibrant yet psychedelic keyboards and sweet, cooing harmony backing vocals. The protagonist is still head-over-heels on the funky “Girl You Make Me Stupid”, which features an electric harp blowout from guest John Popper, Blues Traveler front man. “How Would I” and “Xylophone” are driving electric rockers, the lover now gone on the latter. There’s finger-snapping ‘70s soul, including dulcet flute and jazzy backing horns on “Spin ‘Round”, where he leaves small town, middle America for the bright city lights in pursuit of his pop dreams. The album highlight, however, is the doo-wop ballad, “Grace Blix”—more finger snaps, cooing “oooooh” harmonies and vocal choruses, rolling swells of organ and weeping guitar solos—none of which would be out of place on a Sha Na Na episode. Like the Heavy Pets’ debut, this disc mixes several genres – doo-wop, soul, rock and even reggae—yet tightens the songs structures, hooks and melodies, producing a fine CD that will deservedly get the music of the Heavy Pets to the ears of a much wider audience.