It’s hard to know where to start with Cincinnati’s Pomegranates, and even more challenging to describe the aural space they create. The quartet is all over the map stylistically on their third album, One of Us, but that’s not a bad thing. The initial track sonically echoes the tuning up and hubbub at the beginning of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and creates a latticework of harp-like guitars, but the introduction is deceptive, like the rest of the record. It turns into a straight-ahead rock track with smooth androgynous vocals over the top, then falls apart at the end. The track leads into “50’s” which has more of an anthemic ‘80’s Brit-pop vibe, from The Mighty Lemon Drops type of music to the falsetto Bronski Beat-esque vocals.
Musical maturity and psychedelic sounds on One of Us are matched by intelligent lyrics that narrarate dreams.
The first two tracks are a microcosm of One Of Us. One moment there’s a celebration of the heyday of Echo and the Bunnymen (“Prouncer”) and the next their love is spiraling into a maelstrom that echoes the “Doctor Who” theme (“White Fawn”). Pulsing bass lines and rocket-powered drums propel most of the songs, while electronic keyboard parts ascend and descend, providing a sound like tinkling bells, and it’s gripping and entrancing throughout.
Highlight and first single “Prouncer” and “Skull Cakin’” are the most accessible rockers, whereas the title cut and “Anywhere You Go” are more ambient and chillaxed; the acceleration and deceleration of tape on the latter may be gimmicky, but it works. Pomegranates go from the beautiful piano ballad of “Between Two Dreams” to chiming, rhyming guitars on “Create Your Own Reality.” The more earthbound narrative stutter-step rock of “Anywhere You Go” vamps for a bit á la Hall and Oates but reveals itself to be more harmonically akin to Howard Jones, a welcome shift.
“The Positive Light,” which features the band’s first use of strings, sounds like a whisky-soaked Mick Jagger lost in a Kitchens of Distinction storefront, while “Into the Water, Into the Air” is like Donovan singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” backed by trippy electronica glitch-pop (see Neon Indian).
Musical maturity and psychedelic sounds on One of Us are matched by intelligent lyrics that narrarate dreams, characterized by lines like “The face you were making, it got stuck in my mind/Like a painting of some other time/And the air folded up in two, into an airplane that was carrying you/To some place far away” and “the water you were drinking turned into rain” from “Prouncer.”
There is a shared musical affinity with shambling slacker Afternoon labelmates The Poison Control Center, but one always gets the sense that Pomegranates have their approach under control and are thoroughly dedicated to recreating beautiful dreams, as opposed to exploring the underbelly of nightmares as TPCC does.
One of Us never fails to surprise and inspire—more proof for the world that vocals, guitar, bass and drums can never be limited when such boundless creativity is properly engaged.