by Colin Vallee (@ColinJBeard)
Olfactory memory is a type of explicit memory that can be recalled when a certain smell is...smelled. The memories tied to these smells are persistent and seen as highly resistant to interference, making the recollection experience often immediate and visceral. I remember a 'Bill Nye the Science Guy' episode where he opened a jar of pond water, took a deep whiff, and claimed to be remembering a childhood summer spent in back yards as if he was there in that moment.
I haven't been able to smell the new Pet Fox record, but the first track I heard, "How To Quit," immediately brought me back to my childhood friends basement playing Final Fantasy VII while blasting CKY. That comparison has more to do with the production and the way Theo Hartlett's vocals are layered here than it does the musical quality or content of Pet Fox's songs. After hearing that single I asked to review the whole record. Anything that can give me such a quick nostalgic rush and equally pleasant feeling has got to be good for my health right?
My gut wasn't wrong. The three piece band consisting of Theo Hartlett (Ovlov), Jesse Weiss (Palehound, Grass Is Green) and Morgan Luzzi (Ovlov) have crafted a fantastic collection of tight, frothy songs that simmer on the edge of eruption like a tea pot perpetually ready to whistle. This tension builds over the 8 tracks, with the final song "Disengaged" reaching the boiling point and releasing it all with a five and half minute outro that, at times, has echoes of Blue Oyster Cult's monster hit "Don’t Fear the Reaper".
The eponymous debut wastes absolutely no time getting started with "Staying In" barreling through the gates guitars and drums ablaze. The fact that this band is two thirds drummers is very apparent here with an almost Omni-like off kilter mix of melody and woodblock (!?!) that gives way to some great Ovlov noisy shreddage.
Songs like "You Cry Wolf" and "Way Out" revel in their post-hardcore fuzz showcasing a Dinosaur Jr. appreciation for the marriage of noise and melody. While "Play Fair" "Grown Up" and "Be Alone" lighten the mood by taking a beachier, cleaner approach to this sound.
"How To Quit" is the crowning achievement on the album as it softly pulls you in with its worried, plaintive guitar lead and assured Weiss drumming. I get some heavy Minus The Bear à la Planet of Ice vibes from this song with its mix of airy melody and complex rhythms.
Mining sounds of the past and present, Pet Fox have an album that stands on its own. Pet Fox never feels derivative, instead expanding and blending the sounds of their main projects into something warm and unique. You'll find me burning this to a CD so I can play it through an old SONY boombox while I fire up my PS1 to see what Cloud and the gang are up to.