Park Police — Ranchero (CD Review)

Park Police - Ranchero
Get it at Not Lame Records.

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Park Police
Rating: 8 (out of 10)
Independent Release | 2005

When Pat Wescott sings “We’ve been waiting for you to finally come around” in the opening track of 2005’s Ranchero, he’s being, for once, very serious. Though this is Park Police’s first album, the band, which also includes bassist Eric Bloodsworth and drummer Bruno Anderson, has been together in various forms for well over a decade. This is the Baltimore-based group’s first attempt at a trio, which explains the opening lines of “Mission Song”: “Ten years and pocket change/ we’ve been trying to rearrange/ had a choice for another band/ so we could find us a place to stand.”

It seems more like a place to slouch. Even after a decade of shuffling around, the three 30-somethings of Park Police still seem unconcerned with trying to make it big. They recorded at the Lil’ House, and their album is sold with Not Lame Recordings. As in “Mission Song,” their lyrics are often shrugs of self-deprecation; in “Tunnel,” Wescott confesses to “singing to static, but I’ve lost my place again.” Park Police even dubbed their debut after a defunct half-car, half-pickup truck – certainly not the most glamorous means of transportation.

But there’s nothing more comfortable than cruising around in a beat-up pickup – even half of one – and Ranchero is just the CD to blast from the busted speakers. Not only are many individual tracks bona fide driving songs (especially and obviously “Next Gear”), but the album as a whole is a rollicking, we-don’t-slow-down-for-speed-bumps kind of affair. Like the car, the music is pleasantly worn in, friendly guitar rock with origins in The Who and Rolling Stones. The band also collects frequent comparisons to Joe Jackson’s early work, and the snappy “Nationwide” and rich harmonies and catchy chorus of “I Tried” might mix well with the likes of “Is She Really Going out with Him?”

Ah, screw it – this album isn’t designed for serious discussions or analysis, so stop reading about it. Go get a jump-start, duct tape the brake lights back on and hit the road with Ranchero.