PitchWeekly (September 10-16, 1998)

Odor of Pears' stunning debut Mortal smells like dark spirits. From its title to the tombstones on its cover to its fitting conclusion, "Deathbed," it's obvious that this Columbia-based band has death on its mind.

"Deathbed," one of the best ending tracks in recent memory, finds singer Diana Blackwell rehashing her life from childhood to school to weary years of work and worry, then sighing, Anyway, I guess that's it/My story, my life/That was... Death is familiar territory for goth bands, but Blackwell manages to keep her lyrics fresh, honest, and insightful.

On another mortality-minded track, "Wild Elephants," she sings, No heaven/no justice/no purpose/no second chance over the slow dark buss of synthesizers. After these words, she indignantly asks in a raised voice, Why should there be? The haunting synthesizers return, fade briefly as hollow percussion takes the spotlight, then the percussion's pace races and the synthesizers return, greeted by Blackwell's voice at its most stunning.

At times, Odor of Pears speeds up the pace musically, becoming more accessible without sacrificing lyrical content. The ominous "God Is a Bug" reaches a fervent crescendo reminiscent of the score of a horror movie during the film's climatic scene, while the sensual vocals and urgent new wave-style beat of "Touch Me (I'm a Freak)" should send goth dancers into spasms.

Despite the band's fascination with mortality, a lengthy career seems likely for Odor of Pears after this alternately beautiful and disturbing debut. -- Andrew Miller

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Odor of Pears 2004, Rev: 02/10/04