At first listen, I’m taken aback by The Pasties. They’re just so…happy. This is an independent rock record that came out in 2001, right? So where are the quiet vocals run ragged by long nights spent in hysterics over a fallen or unfaithful muse, a la Bright Eyes and Dashboard Confessional?
The Pasties’ “Platonica” reminds me most of the straight-up, sunny indie rock of bands like Fountains of Wayne and Superdrag, American acts who released a few good singles in the mid-’90s before going on to achieve a considerable degree of popularity in Europe. I can see the band becoming the darling of the European summer music festival circuit, which doesn’t do much for the reader by way of recommendation. Suffice it to say that it’s hard to dislike The Pasties, and their simple yet well-crafted songs of lost love and charming heartbreak will lodge themselves deep within your brain whether or not English is your first language.
Vocalist Devon Copley has a sweet, earnest voice that stands out against Eric Casimiro’s jangly guitar, solid bass lines courtesy of Sam Endicott and drums by Matt Deveau. I picture the band getting really excited about these songs, shamelessly mining old diaries for lines like “I wrote the book of you last night. . .the ending never works out right.” Copley’s lyrics, for all their sweet post-adolescent neurosis, aren’t maudlin. They aren’t the morbid poetry of Bright Eyes songwriter Conor Oberst, but rather the wistful musings of a man with a healthy attitude toward relationships. If the two groups were to get drunk on a Saturday evening, Copley would be the one who gets sloshed on a few bottles of red wine and ends his night with Weezer’s “Jamie” playing on eternal repeat as he falls asleep alone. Oberst, on the other hand, would match you shot for shot of vodka in a seedy bar in some remote corner of Omaha, Neb. and then refuse to leave you alone until he tells you his entire life story.
Inviting the inevitable comparison, yes, The Pasties sound a bit like Weezer. However, they’re more exuberant, more exultant, way more stoked about what they’re doing. The psychological state of “Platonica” is more “Green Album” than “Pinkerton”; expect lots of backup “ooooohs” and “lalalalas.” The band’s joyfully laborious approach to making music has been rewarded by “The Wreck of You and Me” being chosen for the Best American Songwriting award for 2001.
From their informative and well-done website to the myriad methods of contact information available on their CD case alone, The Pasties come across as a genuine and highly accessible band, unlike other acts whose vocalists seem to project a quiet loathing for fans. This attitude goes a long way in influencing my reaction to their music; power pop done sincerely gets a lot farther with me (and many other listeners) than snottily ironic indie or emocore.
The small print on the back of “Platonica” reads: “Copyright 2001 The Pasties All Rights Reserved. But you can make copies for your friends.” Well, you should, because The Pasties want to be your friend, and “Platonica” is friendly music.