By Brian Tucker
Pet Names has released Missed Connections, a new EP of six songs and it retains the earnest qualities of their first collection (Strangers, released late last summer) while making lateral move away in the process.
After Strangers came out, they contributed a song to a Mixgrotto compilation album, and then the band lost a member. The band member shake-up didn’t have much affect in terms of making good music, the indie rock, pop punk kind. Though it’s a little different, Pet Names came out shining, all evidenced on Missed Connections.
Boasting vocal strengths and fun, solid music, the band delivers on the songs, especially on the really shrift ones. They easily oscillate on vibes where they bash about or slow down on songs. Missed Connections can sound brash yet feel restrained (“Something I Said”) or gentle while seemingly blowing the speed limit (“Untied Laces”).
Its funny, faster tunes feel like they’re hanging back and slower tunes keep a rock and roll feel. “Smoke Signals” and “Untied Laces” are key, bringing to mind what Green Day would sound like if they played a lot slower. But Pet Names aren’t a knock off, just four musicians playing melodic, catchy without being obvious songs.
Often there’s an endless quality to songs, an idea without a distinct beginning or end. “Untied Laces” comes out of nowhere really, no pageantry calling attention to itself. The recording sounds as if it were caught in the middle, like someone hit record while they were fooling around. It’s an effective song, hearty and sweet-sounding yet loaded with choice lyrics.
Tommy Hall sings, “I don’t think in sentences, I think in paragraphs and pages/I’m setting reminders while tripping over all the untied laces.” These are great, poetic, swirling ideas – “It’s hard to imagine when you’re always clouded/With the lessons you’re forgetting and you’re always overstepping/You’re surrounded and confounded and your thoughts get impounded.”
It’s an acoustic driven number but stylistically begs to also be played electric, loud and with fury, especially a song ending with frustration – “I lost my place keeping pace/Now I’m starting over again.”
“Empty Fortune Cookie” is some of the best music inside a minute and a half and the same goes for “Something I Said” at just over two minutes. And “Chasing Me Down” is so good, explosive music released like an outsider on the run, like a distant relative to bands like The Alarm or Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. And those spitfire drum beats, it’s probably the best tune on the EP.