ROCK & REPRISE.NET
First off, about this Goblin Market thing. I get that Jeff Kelly and Laura Weller probably started this side project of Green Pajamas thinking that they wanted to distance themselves from the Pajamas, that the separation would avoid confusion. The thing is, the Pajamas have had this sort of revolving door policy over the years and the separation is not necessary, were it Weller and Kelly or Weller and Joe Ross or any other combination of Pajamadom. There is something about the Pajamas which makes any combination of members a moot point. They are Pajamas and that is all there is to it. And being Pajamas, they can do no wrong, to these ears.
Having become reacquainted with the Pajamas after a decade hiatus, I am slowly working my way through the various albums released by the various incarnations of the band. There are tons of them and I am slowly wondering what the hell happened. I am hearing nothing but outstanding music and I know the band has gotten its share of attention and probably sales, and yet I hear very little on the street. My street, anyway. As Shakespeare would have said had he lived today, “There is something rotten in the state of musicdom, M'lord.”
Rotten indeed, and it ain't the music. It's the industry. And the present. The music is better than ever and I am going mad trying to figure out how to spread the word--- any word--- about the best of it. Welcome to the Goblin Market, my friends, because if this isn't among the best, there simply is no best. And, yes, it does sound like the Pajamas. How could it not? Kelly and Weller are two very integral parts of that band. If maybe that revolving door did not exist... but it does.
This time around, Weller and Kelly dip into the world of the Bronte sisters, Emily and Charlotte. Oh, the things I didn't know. Emily died at thirty years of age. Did you know that? And she's dead (the result of having died). I think her sister Charlotte is as well, too. The things you learn on the Net.
One thing I did learn and am glad for the knowledge: Goblin Market's previous offerings, Ghostland (2001) and Haunted (2005) used as inspiration, respectively, the Bronte's and Joyce Carol Oates. I love Joyce Carol Oates. I think it was when I read that that it became clear to me that Goblin Market is as much about the direction as the music. You can hear it on the new album. It is a bit darker than regular Pajama offerings, a bit more orchestral and maybe a bit more somber.
And yet there are highs. The chorus on Remembrance, powered by vocal harmonies and a full organ sound. The total Pop chord progression (and the interplay of piano and guitar) on The Night Wind. The guitar plunks reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cult's (Don't Fear) The Reaper on Song (The Linnet In the Rocky Dells). The outstanding segue between Song and the also outstanding High Waving Heather, with chorus straight out of the Pajamas' playbook.
The lows? There are no lows, rather quieter and more introspective songs. I struggle to separate the obvious (what I consider) Brit-influenced Pop sounds from the more flowing orchestral segments. They are a roller coaster of sound, one flowing into the other just as they should. It is this constant flow and ebb of the tide which really makes the album. Separate them and you hear the songs, but allow them to flow and you hear the music. You know how when you heard Sgt. Pepper the tenth or twelfth time and realized how the sequencing of the songs made them that much better? Ditto, Beneath Far Gondal's Foreign Sky.
Weller and Kelly put a lot into this album. You can tell. In places, it is majestic. In others, haunting. In still others, almost joyful. But always it is Weller and Kelly, with the ghosts of the Bronte's hovering close by. They nailed this one. I give it an A with an A+ for effort. Because albums this good don't just happen. They are created.
Frank O. Gutch Jr.