Pity sex is like pizza – not gourmet, wood-fired pizza, but pizza from a big chain restaurant – it’s better than nothing, is pleasant enough, and it’ll stave off the pangs of hunger for a while, but you’ll be left feeling less than fully satisfied without quite knowing why. Listening to Pity Sex elicited such a reaction from me. On the face of it the Ann Arbour quartet provide everything on White Hot Moon that a 90’s kid like me could possibly want from an alternative rock act: punk meets pop compositions, hard-soft dynamics, and fuzzy guitars. Basically, Pity Sex sound like the dictionary definition of alternative rock, at least in the instrumentation, and where they differ from the sonic template is with the vocals, which are delivered with an indie vibe.
With White Hot Moon, Pity Sex have refined the sound seen on their debut album, Feast of Love, with the main difference residing with guitarist and vocalist Brennan Greave’s vocal delivery which, as on Bonhomie, lacks power and feels hollow compared to earlier efforts. This means that fellow singer and guitarist Britty Drake is left to carry Pity Sex over the line vocally, which she more than capably does as demonstrated by her wistful and distant delivery on Burden You which proves quite compelling, and the gorgeous singing on Dandelion. That all being said, Pity Sex seem to favour a vocal style on White Hot Moon that feels a little detached and lacks a focus and energy that is commensurate with the music; it’s all a little too cool for school.
Drummer Sean St. James is co-lyricist with Drake, and each has a distinctive style; St. James being more literal and Drake figurative and poetic. Listening to Plum, a song in which sweet reminiscences are morphed into a delicate elegy for a deceased parent, it becomes evident that Drake is the stronger lyricist. Pity Sex appear to be growing into themselves as a band and, with White Hot Moon, Drake appears to be getting pushed into a more front and centre position, which is not to say anyone is being upstaged but rather the band has identified their strengths and are ironing out the kinks in their sound and presentation. White Hot Moon cements Pity Sex’s position as a band to watch.