SAINT RICH- Beyond the Drone

Album: Beyond the Drone

Artist: Saint Rich

Label: Merge

Release Date: September 30, 2013

Saint Rich 9-30

www.mergerecords.com

 BY MIKE SHANLEY

 Before they’re even halfway into Beyond the Drone, Saint Rich evokes two legends of guitar-pop: Big Star and the Kinks. The guitar riff sounds in “Sorry/Sadly” sounds like an electrified version of the acoustic “Watch the Sunrise” on #1 Record. It doesn’t mesh with the song’s four-on-the-floor beat but that, coupled with the twangy breakdown that fills in for a proper chorus, gives the song its power. One track later, “Dreams” has chiming guitar chords and an understated vocal from Christian Peslak that sounds like a handful of Kinks songs. He might not have Ray Davies’ lyrical bent, but he lets fly with his own rich imagery.

 The album’s first moments don’t exactly indicate this direction. An opening keyboard/guitar interlude that accompanies police scanner samples seems a little dark. Then comes “Officer,” wherein Peslak plays a wiseass teenager, asking the fuzz, “Why do you look so mad/ you always look so fucking angry,” among other things. His somewhat nasal voice adds to the snarky quality of the song, with a chorus that lingers long after it’s over.

 Peslak and Steve Marion began playing together in the latter’s instrumental band Delicate Steve. They came up with the new project when Marion sat down behind the drum kit and Peslak started coming up with song ideas on guitar. While his voice might take a bit of getting used to, his songs do not. With touches of country guitars and a production that favors warm reverb and brings out extra layers of the arrangements (voices and instruments), Beyond the Drone comes off as a strong debut full of engaging pop.

 DOWNLOAD: “Dreams,” “Already Gone.”

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