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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

PFR -- Them


5/10

Aw, man. There's a reason that PFR's greatest hits album, released just a few years after their first swansong, Them, only includes two of Them's songs.
Do you come to PFR for the sweet, Beatles-esque harmonies? They are few and far between on Them. They are replaced by vocal effects and strings. Maybe there were tensions in the band, considering they had their first break-up shortly after Them was released, but it seems rare on this album for frontmen, Joel Hanson and Patrick Andrew, to even appear on the same song together. On top of that, most PFR albums see Hanson taking lead-singing duties throughout, with Andrew providing a large amount of background vocals on each song, and lead on maybe two or three (with songwriting credits following accordingly). For some reason, Andrew sings lead and receives chief writing credits on over half these songs. This diverts from PFR's trademark sound, and strengths. Andrew, at least in 1996, is not as strong a vocalist or writer as Hanson. He adds a grit to his Them vocals that is not really found on previous albums, and it is a little abrasive to the ears. Also, Andrew's melodies are Beyoncé-esque. By that, I mean that the melodies are extremely busy, and that Andrew sings many, many notes--even if he and Hanson were getting along great, and in great proximity, there isn't much room for harmony in Andrew's songs here, anyway.
But I won't place all of the Them blame on Patrick Andrew. Outside of "Pour Me Out," Them features some of Joel Hanson's weakest songwriting to date. Compared to the previous two albums, it almost sounds like Hanson is just fulfilling a quota so the band can end. The two frontmen combine to give Them a strange hard rock-lite meets CCM sound. I just don't like it. It's weak and a little cheesy...man, the lyrics are even cheesy, too. PFR can and have done so much better. I don't get the regression.
I am very happy, though, that PFR decided to give the fans a better conclusion, just five years later. Them would have been a lousy way to end things.
But before I get to that, here's Them's first track, "Pour Me Out," which signals a far better album than what listener's actually get.


1996 Sparrow Records
1. Pour Me Out 4:06
2. Daddy Never Cried 3:27
3. Anything 3:49
4. Fight 4:59
5. Line of Love 3:11
6. Ordinary Day 3:12
7. Tried to Tell Her 2:38
8. Face to Face 3:52
9. Them 4:13
10. Kingdom Smile 3:08
11. Say 2:48
12. Garden 3:16

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