Death By Misadventure Review from Blurt

Green Pajamas

 

Death By Misadventure

(Green Monkey)

 

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After nearly three decades of consistently high quality psychedelicfolkgothpowerpoprock, the Green Pajamas enter the world of the longform narrative. The first half of the band's new record Death By Misadventure consists of "The Fall of the Queen Bee," a song cycle the one-sheet insists has no resemblance to anyone living or dead, which means, like aLaw & Order episode, it's clearly based on real events. Regardless of whether the tale is true (or is even a tale at all), the piece finds Jeff Kelly, Eric Lichter and company exploring some new avenues. The grisly details of "The Queen Bee is Dead" float over a gyspy waltz with prominent accordion; the same instrument drives the appropriately-titled "The Queen's Last Tango." The grinding feedback of "The Universe is Full of Noise" (quite) adds a new wrinkle to the PJs' saga as well. The quintet inhabits a more familiar universe in the lush "Sky Blue Balloon," the ringing "You Can't Look" and the sadly beautiful "Wrong Home," which brings the experiment to a close on a perfectly crafted, quietly emotional note.

 

But "The Fall of the Queen Bee" is only half of the story here. (Shades of2112.) The other half, entitled "Cruel Dreams, Cruel Things," doesn't rely on narrative drive, being simply a collection of songs. The harpsichord-laced "In the Moonlight Dim" weaves dark fantasy lyrics and a jaunty tune into a track that beats anything on the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. The rocking "Supervirgin" and "Beat Me Sally" and the more lilting "Carrie" revisit the sense of whimsy that has mostly taken a back seat to serious concerns in the past several albums. "The Spell" (from which the subtitle is taken) is a brooding slice of Latin jazzy balladry, while "A Piece of a Dream" is simply a classic piece of PJs acid pop.

 

Given the high quality of Kelly and Lichter's songwriting, it would have been easy for the PJs to simply ride their previously established groove. But Death By Misadventure, by virtue of ambition and a few new wrinkles, puts the band on the next step forward in its marvelous 30 year career. 

 

MICHAEL TOLAND