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Splitsville | The Complete Pet Soul (Airmail Recordings)
Short as it may be, clocking in at barely more than 33 minutes, the arrival of The Complete Pet Soul should provide cause for great cheer to anyone already familiar with Splitsville's Pet Soul EP from 1998. Conceived, as the title implies, as an unashamed and unambiguous tribute to the two most lauded bands of the 60s, The Beach Boys and The Beatles, and more specifically their respective albums, Pet Sounds and Rubber Soul, (er, thanks for the insight, G! - Ed) the original EP, comprised of just 4 tracks, was pressed for promotion only to coincide with the band's appearance at the 1998 Poptopia Festival in Los Angeles. Immediately heralded as the best work they had recorded, the EP has since been much sought after by pop fans, its rarity exacerbated by the dissolution of the band's label, Big Deal, later that year. Some 3 years since the release of the band's 3rd album, Repeater. Splitsville have, as well as admitting to immensely enjoying recording the original EP, finally succumbed to sustained pressure from their fans and recorded 6 further songs all co-produced by fellow pop alumnus, Myracle Brah's Andy Bopp, all of which fit seamlessly with the older material. Splitsville's honest indebtedness to their musical heroes on The Complete Pet Soul in no way demeans the results. Employing many tricks and turns from both the Wilson and Lennon & McCartney canons, from sublime harmonies, supreme musicianship to their use of studio technology, which both mimics and adapts the work of their mentors, the result is an album that is - irrespective of its influences - melodic, memorable and original. The whole concept is best exemplified by the 'closing' The Love Songs Of B. Douglas Wilson, which is simply delightful. But that isn't actually the end of the album and such is the confidence of the band, that they've tagged on their own version of the Burt Bacharach & Hal David classic I'll Never Fall In Love Again. Recorded at the same time as the original EP, it was only briefly available on the Big Deal Burt Bacharach tribute What The World Needs Now and while neither a homage to The Beach Boys or The Beatles, Burt Bacharach's pop credentials are undeniable and it closes the album in great style (and should not, in any way, be seen as a filler on this very short, full-priced Japan-only disc, no sir! - Ed). And if the ironic Video Killed The Radio Star refrain, as the tracks goes to fade, fails to boost the broad smile you should have been wearing throughout the album's duration then check your pulse.

Geraint Jones
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001

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