Track Review: Pylon “Cool”

    pylonIt’s rather unbelievable that one of the last post-punk classics left out of print during this decade’s re-issue bonanza should be Pylon’s 1980 classic Gyrate. Though never receiving the radio airplay and subsequent reknown as their Athens, GA chums R.E.M. and the B 52’s, Pylon was a huge part of putting that sleepy little berg on the musical map. Finally, DFA Records has seen fit to give the landmark record it’s first ever CD release (the first Pylon disc printed since 1989), hitting selective shelves as Gyrate Plus tomorrow. As part of the “Plus,” the collection tacks on numerous singles from the band’s early years. All are fairly thrilling, but none can match their first, the accurately named “Cool.”
    “Cool” sounds simple, but deceptively rich. The four note bassline and steadily approaching drumbeat are locked from the get go, allowing the scraping guitars to be obtuse or straightforard as needed. But as sturdy a nest as the Pylon boys’ lay down, it’s singer Vanessa Briscoe who lets the track soar. With a voice that easily flips from full throated screams to a bubbling stutter, Vanessa growls just 42 words. There are oddly skewed narratives on Gyrate that are easily the peer of David Byrne’s quotidian genius in the same era, but “Cool” is just a series of half phrases that imply more than they explain. Unlike most early Talking Heads’ tracks, there’s an urgency in the delivery that offers no comforting ironic distance. As she breaks down screaming, “everything is, everything is, everything is…cool,” it’s hard to agree. The sound of these four Georgians certainly was, but there’s not a long list of material that can compete.