PAS/CAL: I Was Raised On Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura

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PAS/CAL: <em>I Was Raised On Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura</em>

Pop-ulation growth in Detroit Rock City

PAS/CAL's brand of ornamental indie pop might very well have appealed to 17th century French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal. His Provincial Letters were noted for their wit and mockery, including the line, "I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." Casimer Pascal, the Detroit collective's frontman, shows how wry wordplay ("I mean, I'm no Clara Bow, but at least I own some of her pictures") has evolved during the past several hundred years on the band's long-awaited debut album, I Was Raised On Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura.

If your iTunes music library begins with A.C. Newman, PAS/CAL-New Pornographers comparisons are inevitable. Both acts rely on a lot of falsetto from their lead vocalist, and the hooky songs with a hint of prog always match slick production with goofball storytelling. "We Made Our Way, We Amtrakked," for example, details a train trip from Detroit to Toronto in which Pascal has to get a pal out of a racial conflict with a pair of Filipinos. Read either as a prophecy for Coldplay's current wardrobe choices or maybe just a critique of Michigan's militia, "Citizen's Army Uniform" is as biting as they come.

Wordless punchlines adding to the album's playfulness come in the form of the vaudvillian whistling, evolving rhythm schemes and sweeping tempo changes. Many tracks, notably "Little Red Radio," also cater to the vintage organ fetishist inside many of us, with each song nearly bursting at the seams with catchy experiments. PAS/CAL toiled for six years (through several EPs and singles) to put out its proper "debut," and it turned out to be time enough to get this one right.

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