Pin-Up Went Down - 342
Ascendance Records
Avant-Garde
11 songs (42:00)
Release year: 2010
Ascendance Records
Reviewed by Goat

A pleasant surprise when it crossed my lap in 2008, Pin-Up Went Down seem to get a little more serious on their sophomore effort, although the base formula is much the same. Alexis Damien and Asphodel still rely on wacky-sounding genre mix-ups and extreme switches in vocal style, moving from his brutal growls to her Cristina-Scabbia-meets-Mike-Patton mixture of Gothic crooning and creepy little-girl weirdness. The music itself is somewhere between ambient, pop and metal, often all three at once, creating a strangely effective set of songs from what at first appears to be little short of madness – don’t expect to understand Pin-Up Went Down’s weird and wonderful world immediately.

What held me back from loving 342 as much as 2 Unlimited was the latter’s more free-wheeling, gleeful madness, taking in everything from operatic arias to shrieking cheerleaders – for album number two, the band have matured enough to want to make their music more than just mere ‘fun’, but have aimed this time for ‘art’, which may backfire considering most commentators liked their debut for its enjoyability, myself included. Here, opening track Diapositive opens with plaintive vocals from Asphodel that could come from a Fiona Apple album until backing Klezmer chants introduce the ensuing complex vocal changes. The following Escargot begins similarly, yet develops slowly into almost pure acapella loveliness, before Porcelain Hours heads for more epic territory – three tracks in, and aside from some odd vocals here and there there’s very little that could be compared to its wacky parent. It’s Essence Of I where this starts to change, tribal chanting and Toolish instrumentation, and with the invocatory, almost Dead Can Dance-y opening to Khabod Of My Aba that switches to Meshuggah-esque groove and wacky-esque vocal extortions, the Pin-Up Went Down that we know and love truly emerges.

Generally, there’s more of the likes of Home than anything else, piano-and-voice-driven moments of loveliness that contrast wildly with the more out-there likes of the wonderfully-titled Vaginaal Nathrakh, opening in teen pop fashion before launching into growls and blastbeats and System Of A Down-esque ethnic weirdness. If Lacuna Coil went progressive, you’d get something similar to Pictures To Speak To, whilst Murphy In The Sky With Daemons takes an Alt Metal base and twists it into something quite unrecognisable. Everything is softer, laid-back, more subtle, and whilst this makes up a very good album, I can’t help but wish the band would unchain the chains and let the lunatics out to play a little more often. For what it is, however, this is great. The differences between the wacky likes of Paradoxical Sarabanda and the more straightforward Aquarium, ambient instrumentation and gentle if complex vocals, is never less than delightful. Yes, those who wanted Pin-Up Went Down to get even crazier rather than turning it down will be somewhat disappointed by 342, but by no means is it a bad album or a misstep for the band, and given time proves as intense and intelligent as before. I’ll be listening to this a lot before I can really sum it up, and if I could fairly increase the score given in the future I would.

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Killing Songs :
Essence Of I, Khabod Of My Aba, Vaginaal Nathrakh, Murphy In The Sky With Daemons
Goat quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by Pin-Up Went Down that we have reviewed:
Pin-Up Went Down - 2 Unlimited reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
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