Dear Pomegranates, will you be my friends? Honestly, come visit me in Michigan. You’d totally love it. I know some really good places to go look at stars, or maybe this winter we can have a snowball fight! It’s just that your new album, One of Us, is so damn whimsical and endearing. Maybe not as overtly so as your last one, Everybody, Come Outside!—there are no young transoceanic swimmers or time travelers in sight—but in a more grown-up, mature way, that retains the wonder while acknowledging reality. Anyway, give me a call. Love, Matt.
Listening to One of Us, it’s hard to believe that Pomegranates have only existed as a band since 2006. The record is full and lush, playfully combining the spiritualistic dream pop of Young Galaxy or Cloud Cult with the wonder and joy of the Apples in stereo. It’s a style that can very easily be overdone—take latter-day Polyphonic Spree as an example—and Pomegranates impress with their control. They know their sound and they understand what they’re trying to do. One of Us would be a good record from a decades-old band. From a four-year old band, it’s astonishing.One of Us opens with the title track, welcoming you with twinkling guitars reminiscent of the start of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” before breaking into a straightforward rocking beat led by fuzzed-out bass. “I wish that I could just let go. I’ve closed my fingers way too tight on what I think I know,” sings Joey Cook. If the album has a unifying theme, that’s it right there—life and its difficulties, and the freedom granted by letting go and accepting a oneness with everything. “I was awake at the beginning of my life,” goes the chorus, “I was asleep at the beginning of the day.”
As the record goes on, it becomes apparent that it’s the rhythm section that keeps everything grounded. Take the second track, “50’s,” on which the bass and drums doggedly keep to their driving beat as dual guitars flit in and out, dancing around each other from opposing channels. This is dreamy stuff, looking ever skyward, but Pomegranates have the songwriting chops to keep everything based on good ol’ rock n’ roll.
Not that they never risk taking the dreaminess a little too far. One of Us has its share of ambient interludes, namely the tracks “White Fawn,” “Perception,” and “Venus.” In general, these breaks are followed by upbeat, energetic songs, keeping the listener from drifting off—“White Fawn” is followed by “Prouncer,” the lead single, which carries the little electronic flourishes of “White Fawn” through one of the poppiest songs here. "Perception" doesn't fare quite as well, however, followed by "Create Your Own Reality," a quieter, slightly meandering track. Indeed, "Perception" marks the start of a slightly rocky middle section, in which it seems that the speaker of these lyrics is beginning to feel longing and a bit of disillusionment. "Anywhere You Go" feels straight-up desperate, wishing for a lost love. This is the stuff that needs letting go. "Why is everybody crying? I thought we were supposed to be here," goes the melancholic piano ballad "Between Two Dreams."By the time we get to "Demond" and "Venus," things are getting bleak.
And this, my friends, is why track sequencing is so important. The triumphant penultimate track "Skull Cakin'" saves the day, an old-school rock song complete with amp feedback and pounding piano. "It breaks my heart and it blows my mind" is the brilliant opening line, the song seeming to chide the bleakness of the preceding tracks. The sentiment echoes John Lennon on "A Day in the Life"—"I'd love to turn you on." Let go, remember?
By the time the short electronic closer "Into the Water, Into the Air," finishes, we're left feeling renewed. Pomegranates have grown musically and personally in such a short time, and One of Us assures us that we can, too.
One of Us might not hit the digital shelves until October 26th but Pomegrantes themselves are winding their way from Cincy to Schubas tomorrow night in support of the always amazing Colour Revolt. The show's at 10 p.m. for the 18 and over crowd and tickets are only $12. Should you miss it? No! Should you be there? Probably!