Humorous and catchy in places, it’s unfortunate that Gregory Pepper’s problems leave this record pretty forgettable at the end of the day.
Fake Four Inc, 2012
5.8 / 10.0
Ontario’s Gregory Pepper is not a chump. This is a man with serious musical talent and an ability like few others to write the classic pop hook. So, it absolutely pains me to say that his newest album, Escape From Crystal Skull Mountain, is altogether too forgettable to merit recommendation. Like an odd mix of Brian Wilson and the Violent Femmes, Pepper uses his undeniable skill with Wilson’s orchestrated chamber pop and querulously stuffs them into unfortunately short songs that never have enough time to stick in their own right, like a stand-up comic performing only punch lines.
As stated before, Escape From Crystal Skull Mountain never lacks for songcrafting skill. In many ways, the record is reminiscent of one of Earbuddy’s favorite records of 2011, Ben Lear’s Lilian: A Folk Opera. For all of the endearing power-pop rhythms (and even a head-nodding reference to “Crimson & Clover”), the record changes up so quickly that no cohesive story really takes hold and the songs blur together in a sort of schizophrenic mess. Here, I’ll let you do the math; seventeen songs, twenty six minutes. Throughout, the tempo refuses to change that much and I can’t help but think that all of these songs could have benefited from a little more…(gulp)…formulaic approach. I think you could take any one of these songs out of the whole and thoroughly enjoy it, but also be left saying, ‘That’s it?’ The humor present throughout could attract fans of bands like Ben Folds Five or They Might Be Giants, but again, I don’t think any of the tracks here have sort of singular memorability of the work from either of those artists.
I am absolutely rooting for Gregory Pepper to make the next great power pop record. It is obvious that he has the talent and likability to make it happen. Unfortunately, Escape From Crystal Skull Mountain just is not that record. He needs to spend a little more time completing the these thoughts and giving listener a few more repetitions to allow listeners more time for the music to sync in. If Pepper were to do that, I’m absolutely sure that the entire world would have his songs stuck in their heads for years to come. Short of that, it’s just another good record; fun and entertaining but not enough to have you dying for the next listen.
“Do the ‘Die Inside’”
“At Least I’m Not a Musician”