Party of Helicopters – Please Believe Me

4 out of 5

Label: Velocette

Produced by: Cory Race, Spady Brannan

I’ve been trying to think of a good way to describe Joe Dennis’ vocals with Party of Helicopters.  His floaty, high-pitched croon meshes with his band’s heavy metal riffage in much the same way that Michael Brodeur’s do with the punkiness of Wicked Farleys, but that’s a rather specific reference, and still not quite exact.  And then in the Allmusic review for Please Believe It, Robert L. Doershuk finds the perfect word: dispassionate.  Dennis is at a remove from the barrage of noise going on around him, but it’s not out of step, just… distant.  With the production on the disc bring all the pummeling drumming and duel guitaring into sharp, crisp relief, it’s a choice juxtaposition: all the speed and fury of the music doesn’t overwhelm as it can when someone’s shrieking atop it, because Joe has this sing-song thing going on.  It also maybe makes his lyrics easier to swallow, as his ho-hum cool guy talk on mustaches and cars and cool records and cool babes is certainly one of the disc’s weak spots, but again: sing-song.  You smile at it, and then you’re head banging along to the revivalist rock.

Please Believe It swings between stunning shakedowns of muscled up riffage and punk-fueled momentum, flipping back and forth in a heartbeat.  Occasional attempts to slow it down a bit result in the disc’s least memorable tracks – Delta ’88, Rising Up Is Hard Work (Let’s Just Sit Here) – but the much more frequent attacks of brilliant licks and swerves into brief but badass metal very quickly subsume those lesser memories.  A lot of groups have done the updated 70s rock shtick, matching it to a heavier, more modern sound, but POH still sound fresh today, “simply” by bundling up their skills with an excess of energy, and then an air of care-freeness that’s not out to wow you with those skills.