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Pavlov's Dog - Pampered Menial CD (album) cover

PAMPERED MENIAL

Pavlov's Dog

 

Crossover Prog

4.10 | 264 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

LinusW
Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars The best albums are without doubt those you know almost nothing about and don't expect anything from, and yet they turn out to be all that you wished for. For almost a month this album has been a trusty companion, while offering the same thrill time after time. It's just so very unique, which has been pointed out many times, but I still feel that it deserves another mention. Feelings evoked by the album are equally hard to describe. Rainy days in autumn passes by, memories of lost love, yearning. But underneath is a weak but clear light, a hopeful and cleansing tone that is remarkably uplifting all the time. With the risk of flying way over the top on the pretentiousness scale, it's an album somehow filled with struggle.

Some have called it a vocal-driven album. But I feel that statement implies that the music comes in second hand, and nothing could be more wrong. Remember that. David Surkamp has a voice few others resemble, extremely clear, high-pitched and with a shaky fragility that adds even more emotional fuel to Pampered Menial. It's distinct and possibly deterring, but give him a chance to sink in before you judge the album on those merits alone. It's worth the time.

This is genre-defying, easy to get and yet full of minor complexities. But it is the honesty, the profoundness of Pampered Menial that strikes you the most. Many have tried to apply prog ideals on more streamlined music, but in many cases it feels half-hearted or even sloppy. One could of course argue that Pampered Menial is nothing but classic rock and a mellotron. But it isn't as easy as that. While the mellotron adds amazing atmosphere and depth, as it should be, it doesn't stop here. Pavlov's Dog has been nurturing this album, giving it a lot of thought along the way. The melodies are of supreme quality, sometimes sweeping you off in unwanted directions, only to land in a churning guitar riff and yet another powerful refrain. Success isn't built on difficult timing or awkwardly complex structure, but from a number of small tweaks, runs, even singular tones, flowing in and out of the music in just the right places- all the time. Violin and viola for that extra emotional or exotic boost, keyboard effects, the unsurpassed delicacy only a ringing piano can create and, well I can't deny it, mellotron. Mellotron and just a little more mellotron. In adding all these elements together, Pampered Menial turns into a rough mixture of Kansas and early Rush, but in a diet version. Remove some symphonic bombast and force, cut back on some aggression and technicality and finally - add some personality and a lot of heart.

In fact, a great deal of Pampered Menial's charm lies in its inherent weakness. It is not a prog powerhouse, but it incorporates that elusive spirit we're looking for, while maintaining the benefit of being direct and accessible along the way. To top that, very few albums can brag about such a constant flow of pure quality when it comes to the individual songs. There just isn't a single low point deep enough to be truly bothered by. Consistent, but never routine and never a watered-down idea.

4 stars..

//LinusW

LinusW | 4/5 |

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