Over the past few years The Daily Pravda have slinked in and out of the Boston indie rock scene, working furiously on recordings, performing alongside national touring acts, and then disappearing for months at a time. Now the band is back with a new album two years in the making, titled Columbia.
Since the early days of The Daily Pravda, reviewers have drawn comparisons to the usual suspects of melodramatic Brit-rock, past and present: David Bowie, Pulp, Suede, The Smiths. While the band happily embraces the comparisons, in truth The Daily Pravda’s sound has always been distinctly American, with a vibe that’s more grunge than glam.
American influences are particularly noticeable on Columbia, with the Pixies-inspired “loud quiet loud” dynamics on “Angels” and “Evelyn,” the doo-wop ballad “I Can’t Take You Home,” and the Velvet Underground meets Sonic Youth track “Like a Sister” – not to mention the abundance of reverb-drenched surf guitar bends throughout the album.
Nevertheless old habits are to break, and Columbia retains its share of the old theatrics and Anglophilia. (And what else can you really expect from a band that’s released three David Bowie covers in the past two years?) “Your Heart Is Boring” offers Morrissey-grade spite, the barbed guitar riff and anthemic chorus of “Wish You Were Her” channel Noel Gallagher and John Squire, and Columbia closes with “Shauna Grant,” a slow piano and accordion cabaret tune that’s equal parts Andrew Lloyd Webber and Nick Cave.
Columbia is not a brave step forward. But it is a fond and longing glance back at a time when music felt like a brave step forward. It’s a love letter to a record collection decades in the making, that yet somehow finds enough in itself to stand beside its predecessors.