Words: Stephen Donkin
Art-rock, much like indie and punk, are terms used to describe a genre that’s not necessarily defined by the sound of the bands involved, but more by the processes, methods and ideas behind them.
If that’s true, then Edinburgh’s PET, (a name which they enigmatically describe as “think Geordie Brian Wilson”) are firmly in the art-rock camp.
The band was formed through all of them having either “studied or partied” at Edinburgh College of Art (where else?). Initially a fivesome, they went through a line-up change for the simple reason that, as lead singer Pete Boggon says, “we didn’t fit, so five became three for a while.”
The two others that made up that trio were Dylan Mitchell on guitar and Alexa Hare on vox/keys. All being fans of their friend David Borras’ project The Performers, they asked him to join on bass, and the band found their current set-up.
Musically, PET have shown a dramatic breadth and depth of sounds and influences over their first three singles. The first of these, ‘What You Building’, is a beautifully melodic song, with layers of strummed chords, keyboard flourishes, vocals and noise. They also backed that up with a terrifically propulsive, krautrock flavoured b-side called ‘Magnetic’.
Follow-up single ‘Middle Child Syndrome’ saw a step up in production values, with the vocals coming out of the fog and taking pride of place in the centre of the mix. Again, that single was backed up with a great b-side, the clattering, awkward drums, analogue synth sounds and vocal sampling of 'Love Buzz' providing an excellent foil for the flipside.
All of that brings us to their most recent release, ‘Wear Black’. The first thing you notice is that the acoustic drums are out, with an insistent, electronic shuffle in its place. The backing vocals drift in and out in a haunting manner, and everything feels a touch more assured than it did with the previous singles. The lyrics are also starker and clearer to the ear, building up a picture of a nightmarish images and atmospheres. Throw in another strong b-side and you can definitely hear the band develop from one release to the next.
Keyboardist Alexa is keen to assert that PET don’t really see themselves as really being part of the music scene in Edinburgh. “We feel more connected to the art scene in Edinburgh - most of our friends are artists,” she says. “We do see a lot of the same kind of Scottish indie folk music being made in Edinburgh, which is getting a bit five years stale. We love living in Edinburgh - it's our home and we are happy for people to mention we are from Edinburgh, but we don't like the nationalistic stamp people put on their music in Scotland, we're not going to a football match.”
In the future, the band are looking to maintain their release schedule of a single every few months, and hopefully expand their gigging routine beyond Edinburgh to "Glasgow, UK, the world and Saturn".
All this gives you the impression of a band who make whatever they are inspired to make in any way they choose, and wherever they see fit. PET are making music on their own terms, and the results are fascinating.
Wear Black is out now and available via PET's Bandcamp page.
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Posted by Stephen Donkin