NOTE: I am aware this album has been out for a while now, but I never thought to review it until recently.
Please Do Not Fight
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Few bands have had a greater influence on the Bay Area rock scene today than Please Do Not Fight. With its smooth, slightly jazzy textures and Edward Hopper-esque aesthetic, this South Bay quartet’s excellent 2007 debut Leave It All Behind influenced every Fogtown band who chose to sing about the casual melancholy of city life. (This spectrum ranges from Finish Ticket to Madders, a much broader range than many people would imagine.) However, they appeared a bit schizophrenic at times, often alternating between streetlight ballads and peppy pop rock. This dual personality is even more prominent on the band’s second release, the EP Move.
Three of the EP’s six songs follow the template of songs like the debut album’s “On The Other Hand, Fight! Fight!”--sprinting monophonic synths, hard rock guitars, and anguished, intoned vocals. The other three are something completely different: ballads, yes, but with more of a southern country-rock vibe than the dark grooves of early tunes like “What Am I Trying To Save?” While the sharp division is not necessarily a bad thing, it seems unfocused and monochrome here.
The one thing holding everything together is frontman Zen Zenith’s observational lyrics, which sing of a rarely-explored social mindset--that of the world-weary hipster, spending the blue hours of the late evening pondering life over a cup of coffee and a bear claw at Starbucks. Zenith is one of the Bay Area Rebirth scene’s finest songwriters. The strident “I Will Not Forget” is a tender yet tough dance-punk barnstormer whose galloping guitars and buzzing keyboards support some excellent lyrics that sound almost like a musical transcript of Rutger Hauer’s death speech in “Blade Runner.”
There are some great musical moments, too--but Move’s dual personality can be a bit distracting and even unnerving. It is, however, interesting to note the musical and lyrical forms--early traces of the sound that would eventually find its way into the music of groups like Finish Ticket, Madders, Cypher Syndicate, Fever Charm, and Handshake( to name only a few) are clearly present here. For the real Please Do Not Fight experience, both in terms of musical and historical interest, check out Leave It All Behind or attend one of their engaging live shows.