Nashville, Tennessee band PUJOL‘s latest EP Kisses is a mix of experimental poetic monologues and dynamic power pop. Opening with an ominous, pitched-down, warped voice speaking over repetitive guitar noodling, “Gibbons Awoken” delivers a two-minute cryptic portent that provides no obvious indication of what’s to come. PUJOL’s single “Sleepy Doni” follows, and offers a much more definite idea of where the band is at musically. With its peppy guitar solos and quick beat, “Sleepy Doni” has the band firing on all cylinders.
“Sleepy Doni” rolls directly into “Funky Magus”, a poetic monologue, this time without the trippy vocal effects. Daniel Pujol’s screeds are a bit all over the place. Sometimes he’ll say something humorous, but mostly he sounds annoyed with the culture and expresses his displeasure in a sarcastic tone. His delivery and milieu is reminiscent of stand-up comedian and podcaster Duncan Trussell, minus DT’s peacenik appeal.
The EP’s halfway point is reached with “Rock and Roll Huey Long”, another breakneck power pop jam with plenty of exciting moments. The song features charming vocal harmonizing between the band members in addition to great lead guitar work. A snappy track titled “Designer Feelings” kicks off the record’s second half. The last two and a half minutes of this five-minute song are purely instrumental, allowing for a couple solos and some creative production that keep the piece interesting until its end.
“Gingerbread Man” is another longish composition that continues in the lyric-less style of its predecessor. This song pulls back the tempo a tad and allows Daniel and his bandmates to showcase their guitar and bass interplay which is exceptionally tight. After “Gingerbread Man”, we step back into the poetic monologues with “Dancing in the Piglight”. In this anecdote, Daniel describes a dream he had after taking too much antihistamine. The collection ends with “Only Like”, a pretty tune with a beachy vibe and an appropriately conclusive-sounding chorus.
Taken individually, the tracks on this EP that feature Pujol’s poetic monologues are at best only somewhat entertaining. When Kisses is experienced as a cohesive whole, these parts feel disruptive. While the music and sung vocals are mostly strong and entertaining, the spoken word compositions, delivered over monotonous guitar exercises, feel out of place and tedious. The leapfrogging of spoken word and power pop makes for an unbalanced album. PUJOL would have had a more solid EP if they’d pulled the monologues. Still, the power pop songs here are strong, and if you can wait out the prosy moments there’s still plenty to enjoy on Kisses.