by Morley Seaver
Pagoda is the musical project behind Michael Pitt. Yes that Michael Pitt. The actor – of Hedwig & the Angry Inch and Last Days. While sometimes we've been underwhelmed by actors-turned-musicians, this is not the case here. The promo material suggests that Pitt is actually a musician first and it seems to ring true after only a casual listen to this record.
Whether it's a hold-over from the Last Days film (inspired by Kurt Cobain's life) or not, the opening (and possibly best cut) song "Lesson Learned" is very Cobain-ish, with the same raggedy vocal. The melody line is simply hypnotizing and the spare arrangement allows the song to breathe and pull your ears in its direction. "Death to Birth" is another excellent display of songwriting and combines with the beefier "Botus" to form the best parts of the record.
Apparently a long time in the making, this record is well worth the effort and wait. Nice production and Pitt's seemingly off-kilter personality help make this a winner.
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