National Beekeepers Society - Pawn Shop Etiquette

Remember when Spoon were young and adventurous? Then they petered out into adulthood or a more mellow escape from thrift and snark with Girls Can Tell. From there on out it hasn’t been like they’ve turned their back on us, and it’s not like they’ve made any horrid albums (ok, Gimme Fiction ain’t that grand), but I’m still indebted to Telephono and A Series of Sneaks, as they were my stepping stones towards the same adulthood that now surrounds Spoon.

Thankfully we have Madison, Wisconsin to save us from old age. Those kids up there have not failed me yet and seem to exist in some ice cavern where oblique ideas and pristine arrangements co-exist with scruffy recordings and catchy songwriting, eternal youth – just aging in mind. Case in point is Pawn Shop Etiquette, the second record from Madison’s National Beekeeper’s Society. No offense to the latest from Pale Young Gentleman, it’s just that they seem to be aging as well, and faster than normal, it’s not bad, but I’m not seeing much progression there.

Pawn Shop Etiquette though, would fit nicely in 1998, with progression through regression, or at least remembrance – as they possess the nearly-patented Britt Daniel matter-of-factual wordplay. The shuck and jive, incomplete sentences, perfect pauses -- a post-collegiate wit beyond their years – it all appears to be here.

A handful of songs could be plucked right from Series of Sneaks, except NBS add horns and dusty loner guitar waft and their itchy attitudes towards fashion remind a bit of Trunk Federation, only on snow instead of sand. Maybe Pavement dotting the landscape with tiny guitar scrawls and twisted melody. There’s definitely some experiment going on, they’d just be pretentious to let the listener know. As a result, a song like “Lazy” packs it’s grandiosity in the last 30 seconds, kind of like thrifting and then pulling out a $100 dollar bill. Other highlights include “Sixty-Five” and “Suburbanite,” the latter cuddled by that lip of twang I referred to earlier, at least until it blossoms into a slouchy anthem of desperation. Madison does it again, and Pawn Shop Etiquette might just be the best of the bunch.

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