Left field 

Pale People's portrait of sex, horror and joy

On their bandcamp page, Missoula's Pale People describe their new album as "songs about sex and horror and perversions of Greek myth and impotent rage and luminous joy." This is, in fact, a truthful description of Bright Ideas. Pale People's leader, keyboardist and vocalist Mack Gilcrest, has posted a long story of the band's origin, which includes Gilcrest trying to transform Chopin's "Prelude in C Minor (Op. 28, No. 20)" into a punk confessional. But even that detail won't prepare you for this strange and melodramatic collection.

Bright Ideas sounds like a musical by a madman who is familiar with life's underbelly and is tender because of it. Gilcrest is an excellent piano player and his vocals are like a classically trained choral singer sometimes channeling David Bowie. With backup from bassist/guitarist Kurt Skrivseth and drummer Brian Tremper, Gilcrest sings about uncomfortable things, but the stories are hard to put your finger on.

click to enlarge noise_palepeople.jpg

In "Toilet Song" he talk-sings, "I can see you waken, ordinary girl/ And you are stumbling towards the toilet, upheaval on its way/ You've never felt like this! Oh! Nobody's ever felt like this!" "Auf Wiedersehen," a story about partying at a wake, is especially good, while others, like "Mona Lisa," could use a little restraint. The entire album feels like a weird nightmare. It makes my skin crawl and it makes me want to keep listening to figure it out.

Pale People play the Palace with the Fruiting Nobodies and Will Cook Sat., March 5, at 10 PM. Free.

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