Pile - Green and Gray - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Pile - Green and Gray

by Mark Wallace Jr Rating:8 Release Date:2019-05-03
Pile - Green and Gray
Pile - Green and Gray

“Your favourite band’s favourite band.”

“The musician’s kind of musicians making music for musicians.”

There are a hand full of descriptions similar to those above that attempt to bring to light exactly what it is that one of Boston, Massachusettes’ finest, Pile, are doing musically. Apparently, it is much easier to describe who the band appeals to rather than try to describe what the band sounds like. Now seven albums into their career, one would hope to have a better grasp on the band’s sound, or in some small way a more predictable notion of exactly what we are to expect from a new Pile album. The group continues to surprise while, at the same time, claiming their earned, rightful place in the musical landscape with a sound that one can easily characterize as all their own. With all of this in mind, it then becomes, even more, an amazing feat that the band, on their seventh album, are able to manipulate this sounds-like-no-other sound into their best work to date. Green and Gray still can be identified as an album of musicians making music for musicians; the difference here is that Pile have added enough rhythmic and melodic clarity into the album that the most laymen of laymen can find joy in it.

Pile are a band that have always trafficked heavily in compositional dynamic. Both the loud and quiet parts of their sound and the arrangement of both is meticulously written to achieve maximum surprise at times and ultimate comfort other times, seemingly controlling each and every sound to drag the listener through whatever maze they have conjured up. Green and Gray is from start to finish Pile’s most fascinating listen.

While opener “Firewood” is a wonderful introduction to the record, we get the full feeling of Green and Gray beginning with the following track “Your Performance.” The balance that Pile are able to maintain throughout the track is something every musician writing music could learn from. At each point the song seems to be approaching a point of running an idea too long, we are given something new to wrap our head around. Drummer Kris Kuss could not be riding a thinner wave here, yet he manages to build and hold drama where necessary, allowing the listener breath in only the most necessary of spots that it may bring the most effect possible.

Although Pile is obviously the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Rick Maguire, it is Kuss’ passenger seat driving that gives Green and Gray the magic that propels the album into a place Pile have yet to achieve. At no place on the album is this more evident that “On a Bigger Screen” where Kuss’ playing combined with the incredible production from Kevin McMahon at Marcata Recording reveals Pile’s ability to release a Big Business-like energy back-to-back with a dissonant softness that only Maguire could pull off without mockery. The anger-fueled energy released on “On a Bigger Screen” is something we are given glimpses of throughout the record and never does it fall flat due to overuse or bad placement. It is the same anger shown throughout lead single “The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller,” which is one of the unusual moments wherein Maguire sets aside the usually ambiguous nature of the subject of Maguire’s lyrics for a different approach wherein Stephen Miller, the Trump advising, white-nationalist who spearheaded the anti-immigration tactics that granted the separation of child from parent is brought to the light and figuratively chastised (and thankfully so!).

Whether highly energized or not, Pile again delivers yet another album packed with interesting songwriting ideas. The difference between this album and past albums is subtle, but if time is spent with the band’s band catalog, it becomes more and more apparent. Pile has hit their stride. Despite attempts in the past, a la A Hairshirt of Purpose, to pull tight the slack in the band’s songwriting, Green and Gray is by far the best material from start to finish. It may take a few listens for the songs to bloom entirely, but if anything is worth the trouble, it is always music. Or so say musicians and the musicians making music for them.

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