Far Gone EP
This collection of five songs by local singer-songwriter Alex Pfundt has the feel of the bonus tracks you'll find included on CD versions of Elvis Costello's debut, My Aim Is True. With their minimal production and faintly rootsy, country-pop touches, they're nicely done, quick sketches of relationship fallout and angry-young-man blues. But Costello always had that bleat that sounded like he'd had 50 cups of coffee and a pack of cigarettes before he even woke up -- a bleat that let you know, even in his lovey songs, that he's a dick.
Not so Alex Pfundt -- pronounced "Funt" -- who can actually sing. Which, ironically, is a bit of a liability here. When he sings lines like "All my life's been Polaroids and tattoos / faded sweaters cigarettes and booze" in his rounded, nuanced poppy tenor, you're stuck wondering whether he's an earnest nice guy trying to be gritty, or a likable jerk who's trying to sing pretty. Maybe both? That the melodies for songs like "Far Gone" and "The Heavenly Hour" walk the line between catchy and glib further complicates things.
Pfundt does display an enviable knack for tasteful arrangements throughout this EP -- mostly minimal guitars and vocals, with understated drums and bits of percussion, viola, accordion and whatnot filling out the songs, which are themselves effectively structured. It's good stuff. Pfundt has a good voice and some good songs, so I suspect that once he tips the emotional balance one way or the other, his music will really fall into place, and it will work for plenty of people. Hell, it probably would already work for plenty of people.