Album Review: The Pack A.D. “Do Not Engage”


the pack ad do not engage

The Pack A.D. are an all-female garage rock duo from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada composed of Maya Miller and Becky Black. They are a drum (Miller) and guitar (Black) based duo that and have drawn comparisons to The White Stripes and The Black Keys.

 

PackADThe first song by The Pack A.D. that I ever heard was “Making Gestures” off the album Funeral Mixtape. It had a wonderful bluesy garage rock sound that I found absolutely fascinating. Unfortunately that album is all I heard of them until earlier in this semester. On one of my first days back in the station I saw their newest album, Do Not Engage (released January 28) on the hot shelf and knew I had to play it.

Simply put, Do Not Engage rocks. It does not have the bluesy feel that Funeral Mixtape has but that does not stop it from being a mostly in your face, straight up rock-and-roll album. If that sounds like a great listen to you (and it should) I would highly suggest you get it.

The album kicks off with “Airborne”, a track which features lots of pounding drums and overlapping distortion. Black’s vocals on this track have a softer, dreamlike quality to them which combines well with the wall-o-distortion presented in the chorus.

Next up is “Big Shot”, one of my favorite songs on Do Not Engage. Gone are the soft, dreamy lyrics. Black is all in your face with both her vocals and guitar in this one. Miller is no slouch either, with hard hitting rhythms setting the backdrop.

The third track is “Animal”, which features some delicious guitar in the opening and goes into the buzzing distortion of the chorus that matches well with the vocals. It is straightforward, no-nonsense, in you face rock and roll. And I love it. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album.

The fifth track, “Battering Ram” is undoubtedly the high point of the album. It is tempting to call it more of the same as the preceding tracks, but that does not quite do it the pack adjustice. It is a fantastic example of what Do Not Engage is: Loud. Unapologetic. In this song Black and Miller are not afraid to slow things down and pick it right back up again. Toward the end of the song the drums drop off and Black comes in with soft vocals and strumming guitar. Then after around 20 seconds the drums and hard-charging guitar come blaring back with a vengeance.

While “Battering Ram” may be the high point of the album, the quality does not drop off significantly. In fact the seventh track, “Stalking is Normal”, is another great track. Black has a call and response vocal style with herself throughout the song that works really well.

After “Stalking is Normal” the album begins to slow down, with the vocals becoming more distant and dreamy. This change continues until the last track of the album, “Needles”, which is simply Black singing with a strumming guitar.

Overall, I would recommend any fan of rock-and-roll give this album a listen. Almost all of the album is fantastic, although I feel like it drops off a little bit toward the end. That may just be because I enjoy songs like “Animal” and “Battering Ram” over ones like “Needles”.

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