Pathos, Pathos – Pet Names

Photo: Steven Diaz

If you know the meaning of the word “pathos,” the band Pathos, Pathos may sound like a group of severely depressed emo rockers. The word is used to describe an experience that causes feelings of pity or sorrowfulness. However, as the old saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

The music is an unorthodox pop rock with an often strangely child-like characteristic. In my opinion, the majority of this music is tame enough to be heard over the PA system at Disney World. Speaking of Disney World, Orlando is the band’s hometown.

The instrumentation is light on the ears, the guitar work is seldom overwhelmingly distorted, and the drummer doesn’t beat his kit like it’s his worst enemy. Falsetto vocals have an undeniable presence in these recordings. Overall, there is not too much attack or aggression to the music and its moods.

Summer Nights is the first single from the upcoming EP Pet Names. The song ‘Summer Nights’ was heavily inspired by Frank Ocean and Miniature Tigers,” band member Matt Walsh told the Orlando Local Music Examiner. “The chorus is driven by bass with falsetto vocals, my best attempt at something smooth and sexy like Frank Ocean, while the overall tone of the song (lyrically and sonically) was inspired by Miniature Tigers’ latest release ‘Cruel Runnings.’ I really liked the idea of an in-your-face breakup song. I wanted to put aside the metaphors and be up front about how a relationship can be.”

Some may find the song’s meaning surprising due to its blissful nature. Summer Nights sounds more like an ecstatic surf-rock tune than a typically bitter sounding breakup song. It starts with a simple lone guitar lick, the drums kick in with a steady beat and the lead notes come in sounding a bit like a steel guitar. Walsh hits startlingly high notes in the chorus. The second verse features a speedier tempo and some chanted backing vocals. All of this as a whole shows no obvious signs of post-breakup depression.

This outwardly optimistic sound can be heard on much of Familiar Homes, an EP released last year. Show Me Love will leave you feeling adventurous. “Wake up my dear, let’s travel the world and see all there is to see,” Walsh sings in the opening lines. The guitar work in the intro to These Walls does have a bit of angst to it with its gloomy down strokes, but this gloomy tone changes to a glimmering one as soon as the verse hits. This shift in moods continues on throughout the song causing the listener to balance on a tightrope of up-and-down emotions. Tiger maintains a high tempo throughout most of the track, but just before the 3:40 mark, James Murphy slowly brings his drumsticks to a halt. For the remainder of the song, the melody is whistled while the guitarist leisurely strums up and down, a nicely unexpected change of pace.

Oddly enough, the Familiar Homes EP ends on not such a happy note. Home Recording Machine is the first song in which Walsh sounds noticeably unhappy as he sings sullenly over a minor-chord progression. The total runtime for the track is 5:54 and the drums and bass don’t enter in until about 4:41. Until then a hollow toned guitar is the only instrument to be heard. Although, some backing vocals begin to echo through at close to a minute, these celestial-sounding vocals remain until the track’s end.

As previously mentioned, the music has a child-like vibe to it. That vibe is dropped on this EP closer. “You spoke to me on that piece of shit recording machine,” Walsh shockingly belts out.

This music is not for those who prefer the dark or morbid, due to the mostly unrelenting optimism it bestows on the listener. While these are not the most complex or mysterious songs you will hear in your lifetime, they are thought provoking, and that’s something that can’t really be said about too many mainstream pop acts these days.

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