Lately it seems that I have been writing about more Texas-based bands than usual. I do tend to keep an eye on the Lone Star State music scene a bit as I like to keep tabs on my former place of residence, but I have to give our own Robert English credit for alerting me to the Austin band Pompeii. This five-piece has only been around for a little over two years, but their debut album, Assembly, sounds like the work of a band that has several records under their belts. What intrigues me is their interesting blend of sounds, including the pop of Death Cab For Cutie, the occasional guitar noise of Sigur Ros, a hint of emo a la Clarity-era Jimmy Eat World and a touch of classical with a cello.
The album opens up with "Ten Hundred Lights," sounding like the joint work of Death Cab and Nada Surf. It is indie pop, it is a tiny bit emo and it is very accessible, yet the shoegazer guitars and strong melodies will appeal to fans of British rock. This song is followed by the title track, "Assembly," featuring a slow build to a dramatic guitar drenched cinematic ending. It has the depth of iLiKETRAiNS and Sigur Ros, but still maintains the glossy shimmering pop of Coldplay.
Frontman Dave Stafford has one of those voices that sounds tugs on your heartstrings, and it should come as to no surprise that he does sound a tiny bit like Ben Gibbard. His range adds some punch to "Numbers," a song that also includes a bit of U2-flavored guitar work. Something tells me that guitarist Erik Johnson has listened to plenty of riffs by The Edge. The addition of Caitlin Bailey's cello to the bridge brings a hint of orchestral beauty to this sprawling mid-tempo number, showing the skill of their musicianship. This five-piece totally knows what they are doing.
Of all the songs on Assembly, "Catalogue" feels like their hit in the making. It encompasses the previously mentioned influences into a tightly packaged pop gem, one that I could totally see on the soundtrack of Zach Braff's next film. Don't knock it, as I bet you have the Garden State soundtrack somewhere in your collection.
Pompeii's debut is a well-crafted collection of pop songs that are mighty hard to resist. I suggest keeping this Texan band on your radar.