Release Date: Jun 5, 2012
Record label: Saddle Creek Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
The only reason I listened to Pujol's previous EP, Nasty, Brutish, And Short, was because the press release was full of obnoxiously academic phrases like "the idea of cultural maxims dominating the individual's ability to vocalize and interact with the external world." I thought I'd give it a listen for a laugh. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a too-brief collection of insanely catchy garage punk anthems that tragically escaped most critics' attention (who were likely turned off by the same promo material). The new full-length sees Daniel Pujol expanding on that winning formula with a wider palette of sounds and rhythms, but without sacrificing any raw snarling fury.
With his Saddle Creek debut EP, 2011's Nasty, Brutish, and Short, Pujol sang of the king of May, but with first-time full-length United States of Being, he posits himself as Nashville's rugged philosopher prince. Where the EP showed off Daniel Pujol's knack for wildly fun, relentlessly catchy songwriting, here he reveals new dimensions: the literate coming of age musings of Craig Finn (the Hold Steady); wry social observations of Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up, Chain & the Gang); and celebratory, feel-good vibes of Andrew W. K.
For diehard/compulsive Third Man Records followers, a quarter of Nashville-based PUJOL’s United States of Being is nothing new, considering standout track “Black Rabbit” received the Blue Series treatment, and two others appeared on a Third Man Live EP in 2010. The context of an album and a deal with Saddle Creek breathes fresh life into ballad-like “Endless Mike” and pit-inducing “Mission from God”, though, and United States offers the best glimpse yet into frontman Daniel Pujol’s head. It’s a good place to be.
Young Daniel Pujol has managed to strike a tricky balance on his new full length, United States of Being. He's a songwriter who willfully touts his nerd persona, with many of his song themes relying on general geekery like comic-book heroes, European history, vampires, or rejection of social concepts of maturity. These are all topics that risk isolating at least half of a potential audience, which might be the case if the band PUJOL, in totality, wasn't so damn fun.
Nashville’s Daniel Pujol is a kindred spirit of the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn. Both use punk-informed rock as a backdrop for coming-of-age lyrics, and the enjoyment of both hinges on one’s opinion of their gravelly, sometimes monotone voices. On the former MEEMAW band member and current all-caps enthusiast’s debut full length UNITED STATES OF BEING, PUJOL sounds alternately like a whiskey-drenched bluesman and a downshifted Billy Corgan.