3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
By Tony BonyataThe Pulsars self-titled, self-produced debut album is a dated and silly first outing, with an electronic, mid-Eighties, new wave sound and inane references to pet robots, subways and computer technology. So what is it that makes this album so downright likable?
It could be that the sole members of the Pulsars, brothers Dave and Harry Trumfio, have produced a tongue-in cheek, pop gem of an album in the midst of a post-grunge, alternative rock world.
Harkening back to best of the post-punk, new wave bands of the Eighties such as New Order, early Ministry and The Cure, the Pulsars blend unforgettable pop melodies with synth-driven rhythms, along with their own eccentric fixations for sci-fi imagery.
As Dave Trumfio (vocals, guitars and keyboards) states from the Pulsars website on the internet, "We're kind of odd and quirky. We don't do it consciously, it's just the way we are. We've always loved sugar-coated pop with synthesizer beeps and horn parts coming off the tape."
The brothers pay tribute to our fair state on the peppy opening track "Wisconsin" (they hail from Mt. Prospect, Ill., but know the Lake Geneva area well, spending the last twenty summers in Fontana at their family's summer home).
If you can get past the lyrics of "The Tunnel Song" you'll find a great little pop tune that you can't shake. The even more silly, although cute, "My Pet Robot" is equally catchy, while the punky, upbeat "Lucky Day-Part 2" is infectious with Trumfio's angst-ridden vocals. "Silicon Teens" is reminiscent of the techno pioneer band Kraftwerk, with it's stark, synthetic, robot-like delivery and mechanical percussions (courtesy of drummer, Harry).
The Trumfios are helped out by trumpet legend, Herb Albert who adds a nice human touch to "Das Lifeboat" and "Submission Song" with his warm, smooth horn solos. Famed producer, Tony Visconti, whose credits include early David Bowie, T. Rex and Thin Lizzy productions, also lends a helping hand by adding a sweeping orchestral production to the song "Das Lifeboat".
"Anyone can write a catchy melody", states Dave Trumfio, "but it goes in one ear and out the other. We add weird rhythms and instrumentations. We start some songs with the chorus and end with a bridge, we refuse to be boring".
The Pulsars, who are currently touring the west coast as a supporting act for Weezer, are a host of oxymorons; fresh retro, old new wave and, probably more than any other, inanely brilliant.
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