Padre Pio | Madeline EP
Most Likely To: send you back into your stacks of wax to dust off platters cut by the real deal stars of new wave and glam.
There are few things more disappointing than almost loving an album. It is worse than hating an album, because generally when you really dislike an album it is an easy and visceral thing, your hackles are raised the minute the music hits your ears. When you want to like an album, though, you shake and bristle and wrestle with it, trying to put your arms around it. But in the end, sometimes your want for liking it doesn’t manifest contentment. You just have to chalk it up to irreconcilable differences. Such is the case with Padre Pio’s Madeline EP.
Molded in the sexual swagger and carefree stylistic abandon of glam rock and late 70′s new wave, Padre Pio struts straight out of the gate with their best Roxy Music impressions, blending equal parts Psychedelic Furs (no coincidence, since Joe McGinty from The Furs produced this outing), Television, and Lou Reed. The glam rock elements here are faithfully reproduced, from the Bryan Ferry guitar licks to the obligatory piano melodies parading around in the upbeat songs straight down to the production techniques (the bleating of the saxophones sound like they were conjured forth from the lips of some big-haired studio schlepp from Gerry Rafferty’s dog-eared roster.) In their aim to pin their tail on the sequined glam donkey, Padre Pio succeeds in sticking it spot-on with a re-creationist tribute.
Where Padre Pio fails is perhaps in that they feel like the genre can exist exactly as it was when Eno and Bowie and Bolan held court over the adoring throngs of the boa-gilded gender-benders. The band can obviously play the part really well, but are doing absolutely zilch to push the envelope of an archaic genre. There is something about the way that singer David Mosey croons that bears the stink of someone trying hard to show he can pull off the glam/new wave thing and betrays a disconnect from the flippant rebellion of the genre’s forebears. It could be that Padre Pio takes themselves too seriously. It could be that the path they tread has been so well worn by excellent bands who have traversed it before them that Padre Pio, for all their bluster, come off as feeling too tethered to their idols.
There is nothing wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve; it allows listeners a frame of reference to what you are doing with your sound. But when a band has a song that sounds just like “Pretty in Pink,” uses the exact same chord structure as “Pretty in Pink,” produced by one of the dudes who created “Pretty in Pink,” that band will inevitably sound like nothing more than a tribute/cover band.
It will be interesting to see if Padre Pio can pull a rabbit out of their billowy sleeves when they put out a full length, because there is plenty to like on the Madeline EP. But as with countless other bands who have risen and fallen in the shadow of the late ’70s New York aesthetic, they may ultimately serve as nothing more than a reason to keep listening to Roxy Music’s first three albums, to seek out old Joe Jackson and all the other amazing bands who originated the swagger and the sound and have stood the test of time.
Listen to “Madelin” from Padre Pio: