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Album Review: Bop English – Constant Bop

2 min read

Bop English is the pseudonym for Texan singer-songwriter James Petralli. Petralli is better known for being the front man for the genre twisting, garage rock band White Denim. After recording six albums over six years, the very busy Petralli has somehow found time to record an album under his solo moniker Bop English. Constant Bop, is Petralli’s first solo effort, and it is an impressive effort, and a great listen.

The album itself sits somewhere between Circus Psychedelia and classic 1970s Rock and Roll. Compared to the albums of White Denim, Constant Bop seems quite logical and conventional (but remember that is ‘relatively’). It honestly sounds like Bop English is just having genuine fun on this album. The lyrics aren’t complicated, but mere observations of Petralli’s life. It is more an album for Musicians than Poets. Even in moments when the story telling is interesting, like in Willy Spends an Evening, there is just too much going on in the instrumentation to pay close attention to the lyrics. However, the music is so creative and fun that the lyrics seem to fall by the way side.

The tone of the singing is amazing. Petralli’s voice sits somewhere in between Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys and Adam Granduceil from the War on Drugs, and is incredibly versatile. With a tiny bit of a Texan twang Petralli creates good, simple, catchy melodies. The melodies never become cliché or predictable. Some of the rhythms are familiar, such as the Black Keys’ riffing on songs, Have I Got It Wrong and Sentimental Wilderness. Also, the song Struck Matches kind of reminds me of a fast-paced Thin Lizzie or Deep Purple song.

However, what separates this album from the hard rock classics of yesteryear is the weirdness. All of the songs on this album manage to maintain a distinct Austin, Texas quirkiness.  Whether it is the effects used on the guitar, or the steel drum melody that comes in on Falling at Your Feet, or the strange outros of people talking, noise guitar solos or weird synth repetitions, every track manages to stand on its own as unique. Unique both from the other tracks on the LP, but also other tracks in the Indie Rock genre.