PJ & Gaby - Alarm Clocks Kill Dreams
Owain Paciuszko 09/06/2009
I caught PJ & Gaby playing live outside of Brighton Zine-Fest, armed with a guitar and their voices, they played acoustic-pop songs that captured a sense of youthful angst in a fashion similar to the catchiest of early Green Day but distilled through both twee and indie sensibilities. This mini-album captures the energy of their live performances with all its ramshackle charm while adding depth to songs when needed.
On opening track Time Well Spent the simple guitar riff and hollered lyrics are complimented by hand claps, whilst the song has a distinct 90s-teen movie flavour that spills over onto Your Secret (it even name checks 'Sunday afternoon 1993'). Led by Gaby's softer vocals this track is both wistful and bright, throwing in recorder to the mix. It's the poster-song for the PJ & Gaby sound sweet and insightful, nostalgic in the same way that meeting up with old school friends to reminisce can be.
No Matter Who I Am has the fast strummed flavour and choruses of 'Woah-oh-oh' that seem to earmark it as an end of the evening drunken anthem in the fashion of The Pogues, its recorder providing a cute folky counterpoint to the rest of the track. Whilst A Collection of Thoughts is the high-water mark of the record, both lyrically and musically it sees the duo operating at their best, wry and smart whilst simply eeking out the kind of memories that provided the blueprint for all teenage existences. It's both hugely apologetic and spine-tingling uplifting with its semi-chorus of 'But it seems easier to sing these words than say them to your face.' It's an absolutely perfect 21st century pop song that should soundtrack end-of-year montages in underachiever high school musicals.
If I Came Back as a Ghost is a delightful, if disposable, pop tune that tells the same tale as the Patrick Swayze movie! Moments Away meanwhile is a slower number, building towards defiant choruses, balancing the two lead vocals perfectly when one might imagine they'd clash. It shows off the band's knack at finding simple little lyrics that can resonate through both sincerity and stripped down production, and it's a genuine reassuring moment as a gang of voices sing 'Everything's gonna be fine'.
Final track Waste of Time is a fun if anxiety based number, with a nod to Grease (!?) in its lyrics. It's buoyant but not reassuring to anyone out of work at the moment; 'No safety net, you'll fly right into debt.' Though ultimately leaving the album on a positive, light-hearted and sweet note, something that can be said for everything track here. This record is overall a happy, smile-inducing experience, but not in a horrid sugary way, it manages the intelligent balancing act of being smart along with sweet and, above all, relatable and honest.