There are a lot of traits a songwriter can choose to inherit from a Beatles obsession. The Pine Hollows are apparently students of this school, but that puts them in unspecific genetic company—a decades-old heritage of influence and emulation. Though their guitars are chunkier and their production modern, it’s their cheery, resolute thematic addiction to all modes of love that is the less-palpable link helping their debut LP, Something My Heart Understands, climb out of that overbearing expanse and into a tiny space of idiosyncrasy.
This is frontman Gianni Napolitano’s show, for sure. He’s been likened to Buddy Holly and it’s appropriate, not in the timbre of his voice but in the mannerisms and the writing, airy and innocently heart-on-sleeve. His simple and catchy leads, the “oh-oo-whoa’s,” and the knack for fashioning mundanity into clingy earworms all make me think of Rivers Cuomo sans the punk pop lean. The band itself appears lodged in the retro-riffing dimension, but there’s still variety, like when they break up the tempo and bring vibes: “Anyone” reasons with the perpetually-stressed alongside a strumming, easy groove, and the ponderous “Don’t Forget” is a warm hunk of desert-island loneliness, awash in chorus. Elsewhere, chugging rhythm guitars and talkback leads recall the thrust of groups like The Cars (“Go And Tell Him,” “Look At Her”) while the all-too-short “After Dark” is deranged in context, a sudden proggy gust with sputtering bass and rattly percussion before the conclusion takes over with middling balladry.
If you’re searching for cerebral music experiments, keep looking. The Pine Hollows are a rock ‘n’ roll band playing nostalgic pop music, and you’ll know that about eight bars into merry leadoff “All You Gotta Do.” Others yet might be put off by the sugar, likely to drive off any without a well-developed sweet tooth. For the rest of us, it’s an album that brings forth straightforward songs of courtship, which are well spoken, lively, and diverse enough to warrant further interest.
In A Word: Innocent