Fricke's Picks: The Pigeon Detectives

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The Pigeon Detectives are five young pop ruffians from Rothwell, England — near Leeds, the Kaiser Chiefs' hometown — with a batty name and Sixties-vintage pudding-bowl haircuts, except for singer Matt Bowman. He has a mushroom cloud of light-brown curls that bounce around his head as he zips across the stage, doing Pete Townshend-style scissor-leg jumps. Bowman, lead guitarist Oliver Main, rhythm guitarist Ryan Wilson, bassist Dave Best and drummer Jimmi Naylor also have colossal gall. At the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, during a recent North American minitour, the band's intro tape was the opening Moog-and-power-chord swagger of the Who's "Baba O'Riley." Then these brassy birds started their hour-long set with two of their biggest British hits, the tight, fast knockouts "This Is an Emergency" and "I Found Out." Most bands would have saved that dynamite for a big finish. But the Pigeon Detectives, who formed in 2002, have two U.K.-only albums of slicing twang and pub-choir hooks, 2007's Wait for Me and this year's Emergency (Dance to the Radio), to back up that bravado. There is a lot of recent history — the Strokes' twin pinched-treble guitars; the British chip-on-shoulder charge of the Libertines and Arctic Monkeys — in Main's taut, stair-step riffs and the street-gang hurrahs of "I'm Not Sorry" and "Take Her Back" on the first album and Emergency's "You Don't Need It" and "Keep On Your Dress." But in their crisp drive and contagious choruses, the Pigeon Detectives are also direct descendants of the Jam's slashing Motown and the sugar grenades of the Undertones. I'm not as excited by the format of the Pigeon Detectives' U.S. debut: the digital four-track E.P. (Dance to the Radio). This is the kind of slash and churn I prefer to treasure on seven-inch vinyl. But E.P. (available at the band's Website) is a steal at a bit over three bucks, and it includes "This Is an Emergency" and "I Found Out," both of which will make you want to be on time, down in front, when that intro tape rolls in your town.

[From Issue 1062 — October 2, 2008]