It's not a stretch to say that the music of Pseudosix glows and cinders, but ultimately refuses to take flame. They are a pristine example of a tempered band; a musical outfit whose emotional range and loose instrumental builds are properly curbed by restraint and a dedication to the "less is more" philosophy.
This is evident in their recently released self-titled LP—their second overall, yet their first for Seattle label Sonic Boom—an album that is nothing but slumped shoulders, a head hung in defeat, and just a complete and total downer of a record. Yet, it's also cleverly assembled with disciplined instrumentation, impeccably written songs, and a general sense of importance that transcends the usual local music grind. The bleak songwriting of frontman (and lone original member) Tim Perry follows a rigid path that balances pleas for personal isolation with an overall sense of dread.
According to Perry, "My demons are the looming potential of depression, or even issues of anxiety, that can take away your capacity to feel." He continues, "Obviously, art requires some amount of passion and the thing that fuels my passion stems from my hyper awareness of this dark potential."
This dark potential is flaunted on "Enclave," one of the album's finest tracks. "I want to live in an enclave/Separate from the rest/We'll keep a permanent distance/Because the other side is a mess," and the point is hammered home with the capping line, "If you don't like it, you don't have to come." But in this self-imposed seclusion, Perry & Co. truly thrive. Despite their simple setup, the music of Pseudosix is textured and challenging, indierock for those who think the genre's best days have long since passed. While it might please the ears of the college set, it's absolutely golden to grownups, or at least those of us pushing, if not exceeding, our 30s. Their music incorporates elements of retrospective indierock (think Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era Wilco) and the best moments of slow-burning country (think Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era the Byrds), both of which flourish with Perry's steady diet of cynicism and the band's musical flare.
While Perry comprises the core of Pseudosix, he is surrounded by a close-knit supporting cast of friends and collaborators, many of whom have joined him in the band. "There have been a lot of people who have played with us," he stalls while tallying up the total number of current, or onetime, band members, "there has to be at least 11." The current incarnation features members of the Joggers, the Standard, and more, and as the band's population pushes a dozen, their music grows and changes with the new blood. "The one thing I appreciate most about this band is the tension that exists between the crafted song and the free aspect of what other people bring to it."
That open-ended musical freedom is most evident in "Fire vs. Flame," which sounds like the best song the Shins never wrote. With its patient vocals, dramatic guitar hook, and biting lyrics—"Oh, I wanted to change it/Separate the fire from flame/Ever since I've noticed a difference, I've been this way"—the song is a compact example of what Pseudosix is all about: clever lyrics, detailed instrumentation, and a firm acceptance of their role.