Pawn Shop Etiquette is the 2nd full-length album from National Beekeepers Society, out of Madison, WI. Now with a fourth member on guitar, NBS shows up with 34 minutes of raw rock and indie despair. Pawn Shop Etiquette is a demanding listen from a powerful team of musicians.
"The record surges and bristles with a startling energy, the kind of enthusiasm and focus of purpose to which one hopes young bands still aspire. This is music played with blood constantly pumping through the veins – exciting, life-affirming stuff – and not some academic exercise in genre mimicry, no matter how much it pledges allegiances to the ghosts and purveyors of pop’s past. This is a record to get excited about. And where does all that enthusiasm lead us? Well, every song on the disc seems to fall neatly into place, from the choppy guitars and distorted fuzz-bass drive of the album-opening “Look At Me” (“Look at me, look at me/ I’m on a magazine/ Pretty people should be heard/ Pretty people should be seen”) to the bluesy asides of “Suburbanite” to the slacker-revolution Pavement-isms and guitar meltdowns of the incredible “Confidence.” The record seems to far out-span its running time and, let’s cut to the chase, it shows a firm grasp of hooks and melody that should have critics drooling all over themselves. Nowhere is this more evident than on gems like “So Hardcore,” which buttresses catchy, “My Sharona”-style verses with snarky vocals and psych-rock bridges, or “Given In,” with its rousing guitars and hand-claps, or the too-short romp “Upon The Hills of Georgia.” Elsewhere, the quartet cranks up verses and choruses that exhibit just how tightly wound an outfit they are. For this, turn to the excellently titled “Orange Is For Apathy,” where guitar solos and a background of screamed vocals float above and around electronically assisted percussion, or “Sixty Five,” which, glassy guitars and all, is one of the most danceable tracks in the mix. “Don’t Go Takin’” could make The Kinks blush. “Fall of Rome,” with its “Where Is My Mind?” intro on acoustic guitar, channels The Pixies. “Lazy” starts as a lazy Sunday blues exercise but, once it kicks into gear, will kick you flat on your back. Is it a great record? Perhaps. It has a focus, a kind of sonic theme running through the proceedings, that you’re not likely to find in many records this year. In short, it’s composed without sounding as such and that’s no small feat. It’s invigorating. It’s as catchy as the winter flu. And it delivers on all the promise of the group’s jangly-guitared, self-titled debut and then some. What more could you want?"
-Delusions of Adequacy
"Pawn Shop Etiquette would fit nicely in 1998, with progression through regression, or at least remembrance – as they possess the nearly-patented Britt Daniel matter-of-factual wordplay. The shuck and jive, incomplete sentences, perfect pauses -- a post-collegiate wit beyond their years – it all appears to be here. A handful of songs could be plucked right from Series of Sneaks, except NBS add horns and dusty loner guitar waft and their itchy attitudes towards fashion remind a bit of Trunk Federation, only on snow instead of sand. Maybe Pavement dotting the landscape with tiny guitar scrawls and twisted melody. There’s definitely some experiment going on, they’d just be pretentious to let the listener know. As a result, a song like “Lazy” packs it’s grandiosity in the last 30 seconds, kind of like thrifting and then pulling out a $100 dollar bill. Other highlights include “Sixty-Five” and “Suburbanite,” the latter cuddled by that lip of twang I referred to earlier, at least until it blossoms into a slouchy anthem of desperation. Madison does it again, and Pawn Shop Etiquette might just be the best of the bunch."
-World of Wumme
"This isn't silly eclecticism - the album is coherent through well-written and often outrageously catchy tunes. A good comparison, at least in terms of successfully being off-kilter but well-grounded, would be the Starlight Mints."