Pinkie is a one-man band led by Alex Sharkey, a former member of the British band Brighter. Sharkey has released a series of EPs in recent years, each of them more memorable and even sweeter than the last. Although it is quite dreamy and at times almost too somber to endure, Pinkie is one of the few bands that sounds sincere in his earnest delivery. This new album, his full-length debut, offers 14 tracks that pick up where those EPs left off -- each one setting a distinct synth pop-meets-New Wave mood that will make you reflect on what might have been.
Although "Outside My Window" is little more than the sounds of seagulls milling outside Sharkey's window, it sets the backdrop for "Someone I'll Never Be", a light and often haunting tune that sounds like a new version of either O.M.D. or Feargal Sharkey (no relation I am assuming). The tempo picks up into an almost U2-like anthem complete with keys, creating a Vangelis-like approach as it continues to soar. Just think of a grainy reel of film showing Brian Wilson, pre-breakdown, walking along a beach and you get the overall feel of this tune. It makes Keane come off as hard rockers, which is saying quite a bit. "5 Minute Call" isn't quite as poppy as keyboards drive this mid-tempo instrumental along comfortably. The tune goes around and around yet still manages to keep its momentum for three minutes and change.
It's the gorgeous Brit-pop style that shines on this record, with "Say After Me" sounding like a prelude to Pulp's "Do You Remember the First Time?" if filtered through The Pogues' "Tuesday Morning". "Just want to protect and lay my life down just for you", Sharkey sings as the arrangement picks up steam inch by joyfully melodic inch as a guitar enters the fray. "Long Live Dreams" is string-laced while Sharkey is vocally at his airiest, just above a hushed whisper as the music winds around it. A sleeper pick is "Want it to Work this Time", which brings to mind Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" with an urban backbeat in the distance. "The Near Distance", however, comes off as far too orchestrated, with the synthesized format playing off the guitar strumming not as well as it should. Think of a feathery Sigur Ros on this two-minute instrumental and you get the gist of the song.
Most of the album is gorgeous, but some moments seem to rise above others, which is the case with "Who Is It Now?" Here Pinkie plays piano as he talks about making mistakes, making it ethereal yet at the same time somewhat unnerving or downright creepy. Another fine effort is "Just Pretend", which resembles early Depeche Mode or their first album after Dave Gahan's temporary death. It has that low and dark flavor to it with the bass line being the tune's guiding light. Horns add perhaps too much near the conclusion but it is still a great song. "Adelaine" takes things down a lot as it's more of a folksy affair with some introductory hiss. The sheen on this tune is particularly pleasing, bringing to mind Pink Floyd circa Wish You Were Here despite the techno-tinged beat keeping it all together. What appear to be female backing harmonies are also a nice touch.
Just before the album wraps up with the outro entitled "Still Outside My Window" that brings the record full circle, Pinkie gives the listener one last nugget. "There's Always Sometimes" is the tune Morrissey would record if he could play piano. A bit maudlin but still quite infectious, Pinkie's near angelic offering glides effortlessly. It might be his first but sadly it might also be his best album!