CD Review of Pleasantry Lane by Salim Nourallah and the Polaroids

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Pleasantry Lane
starstarstarstarno star Label: Paisley Pop
Released: 2006
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There are a lot of nice things you could say about Pleasantry Lane, the latest release from former Nourallah Brother and all-around undiscovered musical treasure Salim Nourallah, and here’s what might be the nicest: you could listen to this a hundred times and never realize it’s a live recording. And okay, so it was recorded live in the studio, but still; walk into any recording studio anywhere in the country, and odds are, there’s some track-by-track overdubbing going on. Not that there’s – to cop a worn and tired phrase – anything wrong with that. Having the chops to cut a seamless-sounding record live, though, is sort of like shaving with a straight razor, or wearing a fedora: None of them are necessary anymore, and choosing to ignore that fact is liable to be viewed as a quaint affectation.

Hell, it might be an affectation where Nourallah is concerned, too. But it’s hard to care when the songs are this good.

The number of quality songs on Pleasantry Lane is helped, it bears mentioning, by the fact that they’re drawn from across Nourallah’s career; most of these tracks were originally heard on either 1999’s Nourallah Brothers or one of his three solo releases. Of course, if you haven’t heard those albums – and odds are, you haven’t – that won’t matter. (And even if you have, don’t worry – these versions are fairly significant departures from the originals.)

Pleasantry Lane is a slow build – the type of album you’re liable to enjoy without being bowled over, at least at first. But spend enough time with them, and these songs will dig their hooks in you: The cascading keyboards of “Avenue”; the weary push-and-pull of “Constellation”; the craggy elasticity of Nourallah’s voice; the band’s tight, low-key sheen. The melodies come spilling out in a rush, and it’s only when you catch yourself humming them days later that you realize they’ve left an indelible stain. More like this one, please.

~Jeff Giles