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(Credit: Andrew G. Hobbs)

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Pet Deaths recommend five albums that inspired their masterful new LP ‘Unhappy Endings’

@TomTaylorFO

Pet Deaths are back with their second album, the sumptuous Unhappy Ending. The record sees the celestial folk duo Graeme Martin and Liam Karima take springtime out for swing time as they follow up their cracking debut To the Top of the Hill and Roll with a jazz-inflected folk sound as fresh as cut grass and yet as wistfully considered as the final landing place of a dandelion seed caught up in the breeze… if that isn’t too much of a mad thing to say. 

However, with disguised odes to Cilla Black in the mix, clearly, Pet Deaths don’t mind dealing in the obfuscated nature of things, and that’s what gives the album its swirling poetic depth. Flushed with thoughts of the afterlife that dance around the same melodic flow as musings on relationships in the here and now, it’s a record that strives to find peace amid the poignancy. 

As the gorgeous rolling bassline – perfectly pitched by producer Ian Davenport – announces on the scintillating opener ‘All the things you said you were’ announces, this is an album akin to a tonne of feathers where things are heavy, weightless, and effortlessly amorphous in one motion. A lot of things might aim for ambience but often they can be too wispy to get your teeth into, you can chow down on Pet Deaths… a phrase that may well raise a red flag in Google analytics.

There are moments on the record that stir sonically like that warm embalming moment when the sun pours through the car window on a cold day and blankets your cockles and momentarily everything is as in symphony, which, on the one hand, hints that it might be more of autumnal record, but you’ll take that kind of bliss any time of year.  

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Musically, it all feels like a journey, and as the chef who never seemed to be ever do any cooking, Anthony Bourdain, once said: “Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” Well, amid the swirling half notes of horns, flurries of violins and frissons of God knows what in French, there is a lot of joyous teetering to be done when you really sit down with the album. 

Above all, one of the most credible feats of Unhappy Ending is that you won’t hear many other albums like it this year. There are many records you will be able to say that about come December, but very few which assail that unique terrain with seamless sincerity and an air of purposeful pleasantry beyond the dower alternative of manufactured dissonance. It really is a beautiful LP. 

However, as original as it may be, there are still influences in the swirling welter that come to the fore fantastically in breaks of the filigreed clouds. Thankfully, Pet Deaths have been kind enough to point a few out for us too when we caught up with them recently. Thus, below, you can check out some of the albums that inspired Unhappy Endings. And below that, you can check out the album yourself, and you can check out their forthcoming tour dates by clicking here

Pet Deaths on the five albums that influenced Unhappy Endings:

Innervisions – Stevie Wonder

While Wonder isn’t the first artist you’ll think of when it comes to Pet Deaths, his perfect pop sensibilities and tireless production fine-tuning are elements that have no doubt influenced anyone even approaching pop. His 1973 triumph Innervisions was a particular touchstone for the duo on this occasion. 

“Probably one of the best-produced records of all time,” the boys said, “the drum sound is like being immersed into a pot of honey. We spent hours listening to the drums on ‘Too High’ and attempted to emulate the feel and its sonic beauty. Hopefully, we achieved this and one day Stevie will file us with a fat lawsuit for our loose attempts.”

See tracks – all the things you said you were, don’t die on me now (loser) 

(Credit: Tamla)

Twin Peaks Soundtrack – Angelo Badalamenti

“I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange,” is a line befitting of Pet Deaths alone. It is the feel of Badalamenti’s compositions that are as influential as the musical structures and that is reflective on Unhappy Endings.

Twin Peaks was our go-to wind down (CBD) watch after laying down track after track throughout the day. We believe the visual surrealism and Angelo’s stark vivid soundtrack subconsciously crept into our record. Like a nightmare you still think about the next day,” they said. 

See tracks – praise Cilla Black or Swingtime

(Credit: Twin Peaks)

Bitches Brew – Miles Davis

It is always a measure of Davis’ music just how many artists outside of jazz he has inspired. As the man said himself, “Good music is good no matter what kind of music it is.” “I have to change, it’s like a curse.” He said in a statement befitting of Unhappy Endings. This was a mantra ratified by his frequent drumming collaborator, the legendary Billy Cobham, who said that “everything was experimentation. There was not one moment that whatever was put on a piece of paper would not be changed.” 

“One of our favourite MD albums, it blew minds when it first came out and still does to this day. The freeness, provocative improvisation and cheeky boldness played a big part in how we deconstructed our songs. It influenced the way we looked at what we had put to tape and allowed us to redraft them applying an almost William S. Burroughs cut and paste technique,” Pet Deaths opined. 

– see tracks NOW that’s what I call cheap talk! Swingtime, don’t die on me now (loser)

(Credit: Wikimedia)

Silver & Gold – Neil Young

Next up is another musical hero. The very fact that Silver & Gold is his 23rd solo album says an awful lot—anyone who gets to that number and still progresses is worth a tonne of respect. Thus, Pet Deaths were more than happy to pour some upon him. 

“The closeness and vocal delivery on this record melts hearts and breaks bones. The carefree stoner drums of Jim Keltner and Oscar Butterworth fame was a constant reference point for us. One of Neil’s best albums and extremely underrated in our humble opinions,” the duo declared.

See tracks – all the things you said you were, sleep tight tonight, not everyone cares, pretty mistake (in the cul-de-sac)

(Credit: Reprise Records)

Spirit of Eden – Talk Talk

Finally, the band went with this almost mystic classic. The legendary Mark Hollis once said, “Don’t play one note unless you’ve got a reason to play it.” For all the swirling sounds and flourishes on their record, that rings true for the secretly sparse arrangements that Pet Deaths offer up. 

“The space of this record was a major influence, the lack of urgency and the way the tracks float into each other and tickle your heart is just beautiful,” they explained. “Allowing the tracks to have those moments was important to us. I love the stories of the band taking over 2 weeks just to get the tambourine sounding right. We spent at least 10 minutes on our tambourine sound because ya know it’s expensive in the studio when you are paying for the record yourself.”

See tracks – Pretty mistake (in the cul-de-sac),  NOW that’s what i call cheap talk!, happy ending

(Credit: Parlophone/EMI)

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Unhappy Ending – Pet Deaths: