Apophenia – Red (EP)

Pink Awful

Independent release, 2022


REVIEW BY: John Mulhouse


After live work and promotion for Pink Awful’s 2019 EP, En Fuego, was scuttled by the global pandemic, the Reno-based band took to the studio to record two more EPs. Both are titled Apophenia, which is the human tendency to find patterns in unrelated things, something we probably all need to be on the lookout for in these paranoid times. One EP has a red cover and one has a white, but the songs and, to some extent, the feel are different. If these were recorded in a home studio I’m impressed; the production is really excellent. The sound is warm with plenty of space to let the music breathe.

The first track, “In Line,” alternates vocals between lead singer Ashley Costelloe and guitarist Mike Miller, and is an excellent, melodic tune with spidery guitar playing not unlike something Pen Rollings of 1980s post-hardcore greats Honor Role might conjure. The drumming and bass playing is similarly powerful, the former by Chris Croft and the latter also by Miller. The closing line, “You said kissing me was like kissing yourself goodbye,” rings out beautifully, if menacingly, pointing to that precipice where what you love might also take you apart. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Float When Dry” starts with Fugazi-esque rhythm and sway before shifting into something that sounds not entirely unlike early Shudder To Think. In fact, when Costelloe hits a brief falsetto, the similarity to Craig Wedren is a bit uncanny. If you like what Dischord was releasing in the late 1980s and into the 1990s—as I sure do—I think you’ll really dig Pink Awful.

As all good bands must, Pink Awful put their own unique stamp on what they’ve pulled from their influences, and “Raising Clowns,” with more intricate guitar work that leads into a soaring chorus with more wonderful singing, is what I might now say sounds like… Pink Awful. The song structures are pretty complex without seeming so, and a lot of smart decisions are made. Again, I’m put in mind of Honor Role, even when the musical similarities aren’t as apparent, and there’s plenty to uncover with repeated listening.

“Bee Sting” is more experimental and percussive, a gentle swell that continually threatens to break into a big rock payoff. But instead the band remains restrained, leaning on Costelloe’s versatility before hitting the closer, “Street Meat,” which is the big rock payoff. This may be my favorite song on the EP (although “Float When Dry” is also a contender). Spiky guitars, melodic bass playing, and lots of tom work lend a bit of a post-punk vibe, as does some brief dub-like echo on the guitar. Costelloe’s singing is top-notch, and by the bridge some tasteful guitar heroics are on display before everyone dives back into the song, heading for the finish line.

Pink Awful are an excellent rock and roll band at the end of the year 2022. They are clearly playing for themselves and the love of expression before any sort of outside recognition. However, as with many such endeavors, my understanding is that their future is uncertain. Here’s to hoping they can continue making music and, in the meantime, I highly recommend giving Pink Awful a listen.

Rating: A-

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