By Mark Jenkins
Friday, December 14, 2012
Musically, Daniel Pujol doesn’t add much to the 1960s garage-rock tradition. On his new album, “United States of Being,” the Nashville singer-guitarist (and the band named for him) takes routine three-chord stompers and simply speeds them up a bit. But Pujol varies the formula just enough to keep his punchy tunes interesting, and his lyrics don’t simply rework venerable themes. He’s as much a protest singer as a party rocker.
The album opens with “DIY2K,” a free-associative survey of contemporary American culture and the singer’s place in it. “Tell me about the five-year plan / The one where I wake up a man,” Pujol demands amid references to shopping, Nietzsche’s Ubermensch and Starbucks outlets in libraries. It’s a suitably wide-ranging preamble to a dozen songs that ponder history, religion and -- this is the “United States” after all -- money.
Pujol has a slightly husky voice but also makes frequent use of his falsetto. Sometimes he multitracks the vocals so he can sing both ways at once. Such tactics, along with the occasional sound effect, help distinguish tunes that are all similar in tempo (fast) and attitude (sardonic). Boosted by refrains that are as pointed as the lyrics, Pujol shoves “96 Tears”-style rock into the Starbucks-in-libraries age.