The Pages have the same energy and, more importantly, the same sound as the early days of Beatlemania.
If the god of reviewers -- probably Janus -- was smiling down upon me, these pages would be a mixture of folk guitar and tape collage. Then I could crack knuckles, type "This band has borrowed a page from the Books", and call it day. Unfortunately, the Pages have decided to make my life difficult by actually creating original music.
Well, sort of.
Have you heard the Beatles's BBC sessions? Those sessions proved that the Beatles knew how to rock -- or at least rock in a bubblegum, parent-friendly fashion. But the truth that came out of those live performances was that these were four young, enthusiastic men with the same type of energy possessed by any modern rock band. The fact that their hardest song was "Roll Over Beethoven" is beside the point.
The Pages have the same energy and, more importantly, the same sound as those early days of Beatlemania. They're a lost squadron of the British Invasion that traveled through a time warp -- possibly via Doctor Who's Tardis -- and emerged in Brooklyn, NY, circa 2005. The songs on their new EP, Creatures of the Earth, are sunny, cheery, and totally outdated.
But who can hate the harmonies on "No One by Your Side"? The uptight rockabilly of "Long Gone Sun Rising"? The touch of skiffle on "At the End of the Night"? Come on! Skiffle! The songs on Creatures are as perfect as the Zombies' Best Of. I'd like to book this band to play proms around the country, or at least 35-year high school reunions. Their guitar solos are only slightly distorted, as politely rebellious as a loosened tie. Their pristine vocals are like the wax on a classic car.
But classic cars get terrible mileage. There are only eight songs on this EP, but I already feel fatigued. None of the Pages' songs are bad, but when a band evokes an era so faithfully the inevitable question has to come next: if a band reminds you so much of an album you love, why not just listen to that album? "Long Gone Sun Rising" is a good song, but I have to admit I'd prefer hearing "Roll Over Beethoven" any day.
Most people have gone to a jazz brunch, where a polite little trio flips through the Real Book, ticking off the most mellifluous of jazz standards. It's all quite enjoyable while sipping mimosas and scarfing waffles, but the number of brunchers who would buy a record by that band? Zilch. And why should they, when they already own Kind of Blue? The trio is just there to create atmosphere, one as contrived as the kitsch on the walls of T.G.I. Friday's.
Rock music from the '50s and '60s has almost reached that same point. New bands come along each year that sound surprisingly similar to bands and genres we loved from the past, creating an atmosphere we fondly remember. We haven't yet gotten to the stage of a "Beatles brunch" -- though I strongly suggest someone help me invest in one -- but as rock gets ever older and more respectable it's only a matter of time before we wake up on the weekend to the sound of the Pages playing along to the sizzle of frying eggs.