were to scratch out a blueprint for the archetypal indie-rock band, Nashville’s
Pujol would be the result. Founded by singer, guitarist, and songwriter Daniel
Pujol – the only constant in a group that included the Police’s Stewart
Copeland at one time – the band that bears his name has made a lot of
influential friends in a short period of time. In two years, Pujol has released
ten different recordings, including the full-length X File On Main Street album, released by a variety of pureblood
indie labels including Jack White’s Third Man Records and Infinity Cat (JEFF
the Brotherhood’s imprint).
Pujol’s Saddle Creek Records debut, the Nasty,
Brutish, And Short EP, they build upon their trademark, Southern-bred,
garage-punk rock ‘n’ roll with elements of 1960s-vintage British Invasion and
1970s-era power-pop sounds. The opening track “Mayday” starts out
with a blur, a Beatlesque “Helter Skelter” riff leaping headfirst
into a chaotic swirl of distorted and contorted instrumentation. Somehow the
song manages to hold onto its underlying melody, probably due to Pujol’s
playful vocals and the adrenalin O.D. of the singer’s whip-smart lyrics.
following “Scully” doesn’t fare as well, although it’s by no means a
bad song…the melody here is lofty, vague, and undefined while the crush of the
instrumentation and Pujol’s smarty-pants garage-rock sneer makes for an
invigorating, if shockingly intense, listen. The jangly flash-bang of
“Emotion Chip (No Feeling)” hides a lyrical treasure beneath its
broken heart and razor-wire guitar lines. Pujol’s pleading vocals barely emerge
from the mix, bouncing tearfully in between Duane Eddy-styled surf ‘n’ turf
riffs and unrelenting rhythms that crash and bash reminiscent of the
Replacements on a good night.
Nasty, Brutish, And Short closes with
“Stuff” and “Point Of View,” two humdingers of unique style
and manic creativity. The former offers a swaggering, sweaty barrage of words
and rhythm, a too-brief explosion of noise and frantic emotion with shots of
wiry fretwork levied across the mix as the vocals march to their own
(different) drummer. The latter takes the “wall of sound” concept
found throughout the EP to a higher level – you’d need a backhoe to dig out all
of Pujol’s lyrics here, but it’s all just so damn much fun that you won’t care.
A barely-present melody acts as the glue holding the song together as madhouse
guitars sparkle and instruments chime like the bastard children of the Byrds,
R.E.M. and Let’s Active, a simply delightful musical moment that buries itself
into your medulla oblongata like a chigger and refuses to let go.
entirety of Nasty, Brutish, And Short runs just eighteen minutes from start to finish, a reckless, barely-contained
joy ride that manages to sound contemporary even while absorbing and channeling
so much of rock’s hallowed past. If Pujol is the new sound of the south, count
me in as a fan.
DOWNLOAD: “Mayday,” “Stuff,”
“Pont Of View” REV. KEITH A. GORDON