Odor of Pears' stunning debut CD Mortal is filled with contradictions. It's impersonal and intimately personal, sentimental and detached, ethereal and existential. However, all the parts complement each other perfectly, perhaps because the CD took four years to complete.
"We started from scratch four times," singer-songwriter Diana Blackwell says. "We were learning our craft and honing the concept of the album."
The album's concept is pure and focused in the final product, from its title to the tombstones on its cover to its fitting conclusion, "Deathbed." Death is a familiar territory for Goth bands, but Blackwell manages to keep her lyrics fresh, honest and insightful.
In "Wild Elephants," she sings "no heaven/no justice/no purpose/no second chance" over the slow dark buzz of synthesizers. After these words, she indignantly ask 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 returning, greeted finally 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 urge New Wave-style beat of "Touch Me (I'm a Freak)" should send Goth dancers into spasms.
Although the band has received national attention from music magazines such as CMJ and Alternative Press, most of their local notoriety stems from their performance-oriented live shows, which incorporate slide shows and elements of theater.
"We like to give people something to look at," Blackwell says. "Electronic bands are usually not visually engaging to watch."
Blackwell says that although performance is a big part of Odor of Pears, the music and vocal on Mortal should be strong enough to stand on their own. For fans who haven't seen the band play live, the songs will have to stand alone. Other than their signature song "Odor of Pears," the band will be performing new material at future shows.
"When we finally got the CD completed, that was a huge burden off of our backs, and now our creativity is blossoming," Blackwell says. "We're anxious to explore new things."
"For a band that already has had an experimental sound, it's hard to imagine what these explorations might yield. It seems likely, however, that despite Odor of Pears' fascination with mortality, their career should be long and fruitful. -- Andrew Miller
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© Odor of Pears 2004, Rev: 02/10/04