It was two years and four days ago that I saw The Pack A.D. open for Alice In Chains, prompting me to buy their then most recent album Do Not Engage after having a pleasant encounter with them between sets. You can read my review of that album here. The rock duo was five full-length albums deep at that time and I had, in fact, heard their name thrown around every now and then before then, but seeing them perform that day was exactly the push I needed, otherwise I wouldn’t be here reviewing their recently released sixth album Positive Thinking.
Like most rock duos, The Pack A.D. has a loud garage rock sound to make up for their lack of a third member. Their live performance proved to sound unlike what I’d have expected from a rock duo, and Do Not Engage proved to have a little more to it than a typical rock duo album. The album was far better than I expected, which is saying a lot seeing as how I have a semi-low opinion on rock duos, but it didn’t have a huge amount of significance to it. I didn’t really notice that though until I first heard their new album Positive Thinking.
The Pack A.D. stay true to their garage rock sound on Positive Thinking, but they’ve found a way to give their songs even more punch, with better melodies and improved guitar playing by Becky. Many of the songs even have a full sound that I honestly can’t tell if The Pack A.D. go beyond using just the two instruments they play on stage.
Positive Thinking‘s opening track “So What” immediately hits with a crunching guitar riff and an instantly catchy vocal melody that comes soon after. Regardless, The Pack A.D. sounds even fuller than much of Do Not Engage and the songs I’ve heard from prior to that album. It’s one of a few songs that seem to have a few instruments being played, though I’m sure I’m wrong in making that declaration. The only song that very clearly features a foreign instrument on Positive Thinking is the song “Error” which has a psychedelic keyboard that you can faintly hear in the background throughout the track.
This new and improved sound even transpires so well into their songs that at times I can swear I hear a bass guitar, but nothing of the sort is credited on the album so I must be crazy. However, I give credit to the production of the album for vastly improving the sound quality. Even the songs that I can definitely tell just feature a guitar (or two) and drums sound fuller than previous The Pack A.D. songs, such as one of the more promoted tracks on Positive Thinking called “Yes, I Know.” It isn’t too different from your average garage rock band when written on paper, but to listen to it there surely is a passion to it that The Pack A.D. didn’t have before.
The songs only get better from there, though, headed by songs like “Sorrow,” “Anyway,” “Gold Eyes,” “Los Angeles” and “Teenage Crime.” All of these tracks make up for some of the best songs I’ve heard all year. Starting with simple yet totally effective songs “Teenage Crime” and “Los Angeles” which, like “Yes, I Know,” don’t sound too far separated from past The Pack A.D. songs on paper, but when listening to them it’s plain to hear they’re a cut above the rest.
Then you get into songs that are easier to describe like the super effective use of reverb to make Becky‘s guitar stand out even more on “Sorrow” or the absolutely incredible riffs and melodies of “Gold Eyes.” Let me enunciate though that when I use the term incredible, I mean that I think this song features the best Becky Black guitar riff that I’ve heard so far, and the vocal melodies are only further complimented by equally catchy harmonies. And finally my favourite track on Positive Thinking which is “Anyway.” I’m partial to this track because of its early 60’s rock and roll melodies and harmonies which further show some superior musicality by The Pack A.D.
I can’t forget about other tracks like the slow and grungy “Skin Me,” the upbeat “Is It So” or the funky “Medium,” all of which add to Positive Thinking‘s magic. It’s the closing track “Fair Enough” that had to grow on me. At first, The Pack A.D. sounded off-beat on this track, but the more I listened to it I realized I was wrong, but I had to really listen to realize that.
Positive Thinking is definitely a new start for The Pack A.D. Not to say that they needed one, but they took it and ran with it. They’ve written not only the best songs I’ve heard from them, and not only the best songs I’ve heard from just about any duo (again you should note I’m not typically a fan of duos) but certainly some of the best songs of the year are on Positive Thinking.
Thanks for reading!
9 (Out of 10)
|2.||“Yes, I Know”||3:36|
|10.||“Is It So”||2:49|