REVIEW: Prank Sinatra – “The Peel Sessions” (2008)

Prank Sinatra Peel

We’ve already reviewed Prank Sinatra’s latest record, so now we’ll be taking a look back at the rest of Iman Leonardo and company’s discography. Today, we’ll be focusing on Prank Sinatra’s third release called “The Peel Sessions”.  A lot has already been said about Leonardo’s knack for writing pop songs with off-kilter arrangements. And it’s all the more evident in the songs that make up “The Peel Sessions”.

Compared to Leonardo’s latest opus, the songs in “The Peel Sessions” are more stripped down giving them space for additional instrumentation like the horns and synths that are featured predominantly on the first two tracks, “Droning On” and “Let’s Turn the Knob Up”. “Let’s Turn the Knob Up” is followed by “Have a Banana”, a song that has a laid back vibe that reminds me of some of Harry Nilsson’s work.

The following track is a ballad called “Like a Boulder”, and it is probably one of the best songs that Leonardo has ever written. And that’s the thing about “The Peel Sessions”… the songs in this record are just plain beautiful, without the weirdness that is apparent in Leonardo’s other work. The first half of the record ends with the psychedelic jam “Missing the Chants”.

The following track, “Catch You on the Flipside”, with its minimalist drum beats and lo-fi production, brings to mind the Flaming Lips comparisons that have always been thrown at the band. The next track, “Fab Children”, is a folk-influenced rant against scene mentality and features that wit and irreverence that we’ve come to know and love from Prank Sinatra.

“The Peel Sessions” also shows Leonardo’s indie rock leanings on songs like “Hooked on Gobbledygook” and “The Ballad of High Lonesome Ron F” it’s that marriage of indie rock and psychedelic pop as evidenced in “It’s All Right if It’s Gone All Wrong” that made me love this record from the get-go. The record ends with “Tracking You Down”, with its clever lyrics sung entirely in Tagalog.

I have said it before, and I will say it again… Iman Leonardo is one of our country’s best songwriters and “The Peel Sessions” is further proof of that.

 

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