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Gregg Yeti & The Best Lights

The following review appeared on Jersey Beat’s web site in May of 2008. It is no longer being hosted, so I’ve copied the text below. Enjoy.

   

    Gregg Yeti & The Best Lights
    Heart Palpitations of the Rich & Famous 
 
      Despite a voice that often sounds like Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness, Gregg Yeti can make a pretty laidback album.

      Gregg Yeti & The Best Lights’ mellow new record, Hear Palpitations of the Rich & Famous, succeeds almost in spite of Yeti’s vocals, which would certainly be more at home on an 80s punk record than on a contemporary album that leans more toward the pop spectrum.

      Though pop does not seem like the proper milieu for Yeti’s voice right away, he tempers his slight handicap in a few different ways.

      For one thing, slightly varied style and vocal production from song to song keeps things fresh. Yeti’s voice can’t get stale when it sounds a bit different on every track.

      More importantly, Yeti shares the vocal spotlight with Jessica Rudy. I’m a total sucker for alternating male/female vocals anyway, but not only does her voice better fit the aesthetic, it’s strong enough to carry songs on its own, whether it’s alternating with Yeti on the banjo-driven “Adventures in Bad T-Shirts,” buried in a harmony on opener “Deal With You Perfect,” or standing alone on “Colonize Your Eyes.”

      That said, Heart Palpitations of the Rich & Famous might even be a little too varied. The stylistic diversity of the tracks — from poppy to dreamy to downright somnolent — is engaging, and there’s definitely an acoustic, organic thread throughout, but the record lacks the proper flow to give it a unified feel. It lacks cohesion.

      The record opens with “Deal With You Perfect,” which is little more than a guitar and a turned-off snare drum for a while before the harmony kicks in with “What’s so wrong with black and blue?” It’s an intro track that seems to imply there will be some kind of cohesion throughout, but it never comes.

      Basically, while many of the songs on Heart Palpitations of the Rich & Famous are really good on their own, as an album, it’s only just alright.

      Many of the tracks are strong on their own, however, even if they don’t all work together properly. “The Erase Her Eraser,” for example, is a pretty straightforward pop song, with male-female harmonies being the most novel aspect of the track, but it works. Gregg Yeti & The Best Lights never gets too sophisticated in its arrangements, and the album is certainly at its best when its at its simplest.

      There’s only so much you can do with an acoustic guitar without seeming contrived, and Yeti knows this. To make the record more dynamic, then, he varies the vocals, as mentioned, and when the music has said all it can, he lets his lyrics — often as simple as the musical accompaniment but usually more abstract — do the talking.

      Top to bottom, nothing in particular really stands out on Heart Palpitations of the Rich & Famous, and while nothing is noticeably problematic either, it’s a mostly innocuous pop record. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

-Adam Clair

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