There’s a lyric right at the beginning of Pete And The Pirates’ second album Little Death that speaks with the kind of chivalry indie rock music has not heard in a while. “I’m not scared of you, darling, I’m in love with you, darling”, sings Pirates’ lead man Tom Sanders. And the door is pushed wide to new romantic pastures.
Pete And The Pirates have been potting about their hometown of Reading for a while. Little Death has been eight years in the making, the band humbly honing their style under the easy eye of London independent label Stolen Recordings. Sanders speaks of the band only really being worth a record deal since 2005, but really they’ve done well to stick with their small label as their popularity has slowly blossomed, and it makes them further stand out in the mercenary modern indie rock realm like ton of diamonds.
Little Death is an album of sharp musicality and everyday emotions, a set to grab the glory back for indie kids. It’s upbeat, snappy and sharp as a box of tacks. It has so many quirks that could have been ironed out in the wrong hands, like Sanders’ brilliant way of leaning into songs with his vocals, and the bits of cooing that are the soulful antipathy of footballesque chanting in Kaiser Chiefs and The Fratellis. The Killers‘ producer Gareth Parton has done well to keep it all intact.
She Doesn’t Belong To Me has appeared on the Pirates’ sister band Tap Tap‘s LP as well as on the first Stolen Recordings compilation, quaintly shimmering lyrical gem that it is. Knots too appeared on the most recent Stolen compilation, and the same goes for this, Sanders’ vocals joining the twinkling and spinning guitars in typical style to wrench a song of such downplayed grace. Sanders’ lyrics really are a wondrous thing in this underplayed way, the total antipathy of modern indie rock egotism and clamour.
It’s simple stuff with gives such a depth of poignancy, and never weighs heavy. Moving is a quiet little ode to a relationship that speaks of wanting to stay in bed that little bit longer and just bask in the lazy glory. Humming is another ode to lazy love that drifts by with dreamy warmth (“turn off all the lights, come hibernate with me”), guitars fluttering about and making happy emotional shapes. Eyes Like Tar is a quaint poetic thrill, tumbling out of Sanders’ lovestruck lines into a broader chorus, and then we get the songs that just grab you by the throat and tickle the heart and the same time.
Mr Understanding is yet another ode to relationship that shimmers and shuds along in a grand fashion, Sanders’ cooing vocal abstractions like a bird rather than a football fan. Lost In The Woods a raucous beast that picks you up and dances like a hurricane, and Dry Wing is a sultrily shimmering whirl of cut-glass indie lyricism. Little Death is indie for the fanzine generation, 12 blazing little fires of warmth that’ll connect stylishly with the masses too. It’s indie rock music to write poetry too, and it won’t be beaten in a while.