Refrain from urge to start a wild party at your own risk, warn Paris-residing band of merry pranksters who reach for your psyche to take it for a spin.
Angling in the bushes in order to bake something delicious can be a recipe for disaster, and the same goes for debuting with a double album, yet this Franco-Australian-American collective have no qualms about quantity because their numbers’ variety and vim, and whimsy, require the listener to let go of any expectations. Perhaps, not quite explosive, the twenty pieces spread over two platters – all laid down live in a studio and given a few overdubs – warrant a fun-filled hour, high on twists and turns, and feeding head and feet in equal measure.
Singer Lari Lucien is leading the ensemble on almost every adventure here, and sometimes is left on his own, but he gets behind the scenes once in a while too, allowing another colorful character from this motley coterie to come to the fore and front the band. When Perry Leopard takes over to spike “Fire And Brimstone” with countrified psychedelia, paranoia and rapture reign supreme, when Claudie Decultis recites romantic stanzas in “Fragile comme du cristal” to the ambient accompaniment before Gallic march is flown in, or when Melissa Cox waves tenderness into “Tend Me Like A Fire” – the album’s airy finale, its logical anticlimax of sorts – new facets of the group are revealed. The facets that help perceive “Dynamite Pye” as an exciting whole.
Starting with a fervent beat of “We’re Gon’ Have A Party” where classic cavernous sound bounces off the wall, the ensemble seem to relentlessly increase the degree of naughtiness, but they care as much about melodies even if rockabilly is not in sight, with “Rosy” weaving solemn ivories around twangy guitar – only to see its sincerity slightly compromised by theatrical swooning. There’s majestic balladry which carries the weary “Some Things Depend On A Glance” into an organ-oiled sunset towards heavenly choirs, yet this communal feeling cropping up from time to time will be undermined with misplaced spirituality – hilarious as hell. So “She Doesn’t Give A F” might overstay its troglodyte welcome, and the infectious boogie of “Doodely Squat” might clock in under two minutes: the record looks rather balanced as a result.
Of course, one can trace a Ray Davies DNA in cuts like “Victoria Station” that blows prairie winds over urban Albion and rolls slider and fiddle over slurred voice, and discern Dylanisms in “Catch Me When I Fall” or the hoedown-inducing “Abbeville Inundation Blues” with its heightened poetry, but Lari’s individual, idiosyncratic style eventually surfaces for the pastiche to fade away. He creates vaudevillian personages in the sweetly plaintive “Curly Johnson” and the boisterous “Jiminy Crack” and switches to romantic mood once respite is needed. Adopting a minstrel stance, Lucien wraps “The Oyster King” in a folksy strum and sends “Train To Nowhere” down the crunchy blues tracks just to admit, further down the line, to an almost orchestral backdrop, that he “ain’t never been to Mississippi” – as if fancy would fail to fuel the band’s flight.
With an eponymous debut such as this, a statement of intent by any other name, you can have your pye and eat it too – at your own peril. It’s that tasty.