Let’s break down the essentials at the outset: Pairs have a new album. It’s called Summer Sweat. It has fourteen Pairs songs on it, plus a DVD (I would tell you more about the DVD, but I only scanned it to see the scene I was in.)
Want me to go deeper? You can fuck right off.
What’s that? You insist? Tosser. What’s wrong with your face? It’s very hard for me to review a Pairs CD when there’s “Wonder Showzen” repeats to watch, or even something more masturbatory, like “King of Queens”. There are also fingernails to clip and delightful tacos to consume, with just the right amount of pico de gallo.
Reluctantly, I put the Pairs CD in my computer and it came up as a blank disc. I thought, How poetic and awesome, but then I tried it somewhere else and, to my dismay, it played.
What came out was Pairs music, pure and simple.
That’s a nice phrase, pure and simple. Xiao Zhong and F certainly like their music that way. There’s precious little in the way of effects, production, or song structure on this Pairs album, which is the only way they’ll have it.
What exists: guitar, drums, voice, connection, and energy.
Maybe because of my own musical limitations, I am not put off by limited music. I am more interested in the feeling that the recording or live performance instills in me, an indefinable and finicky muse that flits from feedback solo to primal scream (the act, not the band.)
When I say limited music I don’t mean necessarily that the players are limited in their abilities. I mean that they have chosen to express themselves within a certain set of parameters. I don’t know that this is true in the case of Pairs (not sure F could rip out a Van Halen-ish solo or XZ sing like Freddie Mercury, but you get the point, I hope.)
However, once ensconced in the sonic thicket, none of that matters. The drums get you moving and the guitar emerges, clean and driving. The lyrics involve a bit of humor, as well as a cunning Southern Hemispherean, Mephistophelean twang.
Yang Haisong, a well-regarded musician and producer in Beijing, was around for the recording and post-production work. He certainly doesn’t seem to have gotten much shit on his hands trying to polish up these tone-deaf turds, but Pairs’ sound on Summer Sweat is as clear as it has ever been.
There are some grooves (no one has ever used that term in conjunction with a Pairs composition. Call the Guinness Book people) here that approach danceability (OK, I lied, but “Wo Zhe Yang” comes dangerously close. That’s the point [track 2] when I said, Pairs have lost it. But then the rest of the album was a Pairs album and I came back to the fold. Whew.)
And then, mercifully (or regretfully, if you’re on the right painkiller cocktail), one encounters the finale of the album, an epic tone poem called “My Body is Not a Wonderland”. If there has ever been a more apt title it crawled right into my deaf ear, because I haven’t heard it. The song is a riot, just as an ending track should be. Did I hear some effects toward the end? The lo-fi gods are farting in disapproval.
Nope, sorry, that was me. Must have been the tacos. My mistake.
The lo-fi gods will always smile upon Pairs.
Then they will get the finger in return.
And on the seventh day they will rest.
Meanwhile, Pairs will be touring Mars.
More information about Pairs on their Douban page.