Billed as punk rock for nerds, Be Like Pablo are nothing of the sort. Their debut, The New Adventures, is more like a twee twist on pop-punk, filled with synth and boy/girl vocal harmonies.
Opener ‘The Things You Do’ begins as a dorky ode to a love who won’t look in singer Ewen Watson’s direction. What develops, and it is a pattern which doesn’t take long to realise, is a song of colour-by-number scenarios and mushy sentiment. ‘The Post-it Song’ features lines like “My heart’s not ready yet”, and the back and forth of “Is this good for both of us?”. Such limp lyrics would even embarrass the Mouseketeers. On top of this, the female vocals of Karen Johnston lack conviction while Ewen Watson strains to be so boyish he sounds like a five-year-old yelling for attention.
As much as the lyrics and delivery leave you shaking you head, however, the arrangements and the musicianship are sterling. In direct contrast to everything else, the muted power chords and the face-melting solos are enough to make this album worth a spin. ‘Love is for the Living’ and ‘Julianne’ are akin to the 90s rock sound which Dinosaur Pile-Up aim for.
Towards the end of the album, Be Like Pablo seem to find their feet a little more with the formula and offer up a more car-crash like melancholy where everything gels. “I love you all the while” is the most genuine geek line around and the fact it’s rhymed with Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) means this track is the the highlight.
The trouble with going for Weezer’s sound is that band’s lyrics came from a real place, a place where comic books were read in secrecy in the garage and stealing the diary of your crush was ecstasy. In the world of Pinkerton and Blue Album, being a dork wasn’t cool. Nowadays every teenager professes to be a geek and it has overrun into mainstream culture, rendering it meaningless. Weezer have their heritage to lean on, and yet their misstep of injecting hip hop/rap into songs by using Lil’ Wayne is being taken as a green light as Be Like Pablo rope in Kuda for ‘Without the Pain’. Suffice to say, Del the Funky Homosapien he ain’t.
With scolding guitars, lukewarm Moog synthesizers and drably cold lyricism, it’s a difficult mixture to enjoy. If the word ‘twee’ ticks your boxes then you’re in for a treat. There needs to be an injection of something more direct, a dirty secret perhaps – Pablo is sure to be a nice chap but does he not have his demons? The ballsy guitars suggest he must.