Please Dept.
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Please Dept.

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
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"A Fast One on Julian Review"

This is nothing new under the sun...right?

In a world where someone has always come first and "tastes like chicken" is an agreed upon and adequate response, comparisons are the building blocks of preference. Somewhere an unshaven, economically deprived, hygienically stunted pundit will no doubt argue that when certain bands drench their sound in that of their predecessors it discredits not only their artistic integrity but also their listenability. Prescribing to such a theory not only leaves one with a minimal record collection but steals away any chance of advancement. Yes, there is nothing new under the sun but then again, nothing is ever exactly the same...right?

Meet Please Dept., a band destined to draw comparisons to the waning critical wet dream known as the Fiery Furnaces. Due to similar location (Brooklyn, NY), analogous lineup (girl/guy dynamic with guy serving as the principal songwriter) and a striking sound (piano based, ostentatious pop) it's an analogy bound to arise even in the smallest of critical dwellings and perhaps would hold some weight if the Please Dept. were not striving for something more: consistency.

While the Fiery Furnaces are occasionally content to drown themselves in a sea of overblown expectations ranging from ill-fated solo jaunts to screw ball, nepotistic efforts, Please Dept. remain prone to check their pretense at the door and know precisely when to say when.

A Fast One on Julian, the second self-released disc from this burgeoning Brooklyn duo in as many years signals a sojourn from the full band ensemble of their 2005 debut A Tin Can Handshake. Julian substitutes the conventional guitar, bass and drum dynamic for a more stripped down yet progressive electronic aura that co-exists with squeezebox joy. And at 11 tracks and clocking in at just 26 minutes, Please Dept. waste no time in getting straight to their own self-deprecating brand of educated pop.

Spacing itself out between cagey expositions ("You Are The Cop"), curious interludes ("A Hole in the Hip") and three-minute thoroughly enjoyable full-length tracks Julian runs a strategic gamut of song structure and yields a remarkably spastic but pleasantly accommodating lot.

On "BPOP" a cascade of Casio fingered contortions and whiskey cheeked brightness follows around a narrative planted in wanderlust and inebriation featuring a character who is both desperate for attention and shy to the touch. "The Drift Is It" unleashes a mesmeric and narcotic love letter penned in the blood of an idle threat where our protagonist promises to "hold his breath until you hold me." The fun with the Please Dep't often lies in knowing where the joke stops and the sentiments begin.

With a vocal tic that straddles the line between the dramatic drone of Jonathan Richman and the snarky sarcasm of a straight-faced Stephen Malkmus, Hembree also utilizes fluctuating octaves and the occasional helping hand of art partner Georgia Kirtland to accentuate his sorrow and/or insanity.

Perhaps the tune that captures the strengths of the band best as a whole is "Sailor's Mouth," a gloriously memorable mess of both the ivory and black and fuzz plugged piano pieces anchored by programmed imperious beats and capped off with Hembree's sly delivery. In the end, the Please Dept. want you to want them and with output like this it's hard not to. In a borough brimming with first rate talent, Please Dept. are aiming to be the next big thing. - Treblezine


"Neon Lights"

The night began, a bit late I'll admit, with the Please Dept. The double keyboard assault I was ready for, the dueling drum volleys I most certainly was not. On record the songs are bizarre and theatrical, but in concert they were total synth punk. Chris Hembree refused to keep his chair firmly on the ground, throwing his weight into every ivory pound. His gal Friday, Georgia Kirtland, accompanied with keyboard, cowbell, odd mouth noise, or the aforementioned mini drum bash as needed. Brainy lyrics + focused live energy + surprisingly filthy stage banter + no need for guitars = sweet opening act. - Merry Swankster


"A Fast One Review #2"

My roommate Jason and I were playing Boggle again. Sheets of torn-out notebook paper surrounded us, full of scratched-out words and little haphazard digits. As per usual, as we pored over the mysterious 4 x 4 cube, I was subjecting him to my stack of promo CDs. After scribbling down the fatal combo of hero, heron, heroin, heroine into a frayed margin, I'd shake my head and skip a track. By the end of the round, I'd remove the failed album and pick up the next jewel case on deck. Then we'd compare words, total the damage and repeat the process all over again.

But as we were playing along to Please Dept.'s A Fast One On Julian, Jason cut off his furious scrawl. He stared at the stereo like it'd just suddenly started working and his mouth curled into an eager smile. "This is good!" he commented, still kind of shocked this could've come out of my slush pile. I kept on anagramming up points (arts, tars, star, rats, tsar) but I nodded knowingly, as I'd been looking forward to getting this album for a while. Two games and three songs later, he did it again with an even wider, back-teeth-on-display grin. "No, I mean, this is really good!" he said.

I agree in full. I first caught Please Dept. at the Neon Lights show back in February, and everything I loved about them there lives on on record. A Fast One On Julian is an eleven-song beckon to the dance floor (or at least the bar area), replete with shimmer, swagger and charm to spare. It's pop that pops, with spiky electronic peaks, bursts of caffeinated bounce and manic keyboard flourishes. It's fun, casual, cool and instantly likable too, and at an economic twenty-six minutes and change, I'll often turn it on again as soon as it's over. Delivering so much pleasure in a short span, Please Dept. would be ideal for parties, low-key hangouts, summer lazing, hijinks in fast-moving cars and of course, that neverending hunt for elusive eight-letter words and CDs that pay off on their promise. - Nerd Litter


"Vomit of Light Review"

Depending on your musical tastes, the title of the album can either be a come-on or a turn-off. The New York-based underground rockers of Please Dept. aren't likely to convert the unenlightened to the indie aesthetic; what they have here is the epitome of the DIY philosophy -- a low-fi, deeply quirky, and highly unpredictable recording rooted in a twisted, unique vision. At times Please Dept. recalls the deadpan baritone bellowing of college-radio icons the Violent Femmes and the angular slacker rhythms of Pavement. What easily separates them from those pioneering post-punk acts is their affection for synthesizers. If you can imagine Devo slamming into Beat Happening, that is Please Dept. in a nutshell.

"I was once a crook/ But I changed my ways" is the startling confession in the opening cut, "Lesson Learned." Most of Chris Hembree's lyrics have a stream-of-consciousness flow to them, but they're not fillers or tossed-off nonsense. Don't pay attention to them, and you'll run the risk of missing such humorous revelations. The satirical "Baptist Party" is particularly stinging and hilarious. Musically, the keyboards both carry and add color to the beat, such as the carnival atmospherics of "Baptist Party" and the Halloween spook vibes on "Lesson Learned" and "Bags of Drugs."

- Ink 19


Discography

Insides Apart EP (2004)
A Tin Can Handshake (2004)
A Fast One on Julian (2006)
Vomit of Light (2009)
Have Myself a Merry Little Christmas EP (2009)
Barely Alive EP (Coming 2012)

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Bio

Brooklyn-based lo-fi disciples Please Dept. deploy shambling, off-kilter rhythms and dry, deadpan vocals against the old and new sounds of lethargic synth-pop. The band often plays throughout the New York area, and has performed with bands and artists such as Of Montreal, Dan Deacon, and Kimya Dawson.