A pagoda is an exotic, religious, many-tiered tower, and taken in that context, Pagoda's self-titled debut is appropriate. Built from folk, feathering into grunge, grinding into a classical stupor, Michael Pitt's band is a wild experience. There's throat-choking punk in "Lesson Learned" just as much as there's the balladeer's dirge on "Fetus." Songs like "Amego," which mixes political clips about immigration with the blah-blah text of another MTV generation, bounce against their tonal opposites: tracks like "Death to Birth," or "Sadartha," which succeed at transmuting polemics into discordantly angry swells. Even songs like "Alone," a forced admixture of dismal screeching and mournful whispers with a weepy violin, are salvaged by the music. Unfortunately, they've filled out their CD with a lengthy b-side clip of their experimenting, "I Do," which is almost pretentious enough to make me, despite generally like this album, say I Don't.
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