Red Pens are a musical duo composed of a guy (Howard Hamilton III) on guitar and a girl on drums (Laura Bennett). Wait, what? You say you’ve seen this all before? Don’t be so quick to dismiss this band as just another White Stripes clone- what they’ve created in their debut album, Reasons, is so much more than that. Hamilton’s distorted guitar pairs perfectly with the steady drumming of Bennett. The level of effects used give the record a fuzzy tone, but thankfully they don’t go overboard: the vocals aren’t meddled with, so Red Pens don’t end up sounding like some other pretentious shoe-gazers who seem to enjoy pressing pedals or doing copious amounts of drugs which leads to disastrous consequences when playing live (see Wavvves). If there is one area in which Reasons disappoints, it’s the inconsistency in the complexity of the lyrics. Some of the tracks are pretty complex, lyrics discussing drug use and relationships (Street Issue and Hung Out, for example). These are juxtaposed with simpler, almost child-like songs like Baby Alligator and Children and the Kids. The one thing that can’t be denied is that Red Pens are a band heading in the right direction, developing a great sound complimented (sometimes) with good lyrics. As they continue to make music, expect more great sounding records like this one.
Favorite Tracks: Hung Out, Blue Lighter, Street Issue
-- Josh Smith
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