Peter Wolf Crier Garden of Arms

Whatever Peter Pisano is singing about, it sounds sad. Thanks to the Peter Wolf Crier frontman's obtuse lyrics and mush-mouthed, Kermit-esque inflection, it's hard to tell exactly what the 11 songs on the band's sophomore album, Garden of Arms, are about. But judging by his pained delivery, and the sombre atmosphere that pervades the collection, he's unhappy about something. This means that Garden of Arms is a bit of a drag to listen to, and there aren't even many memorable melodies to alleviate the gloom. Listeners will find some respite in the textured arrangements, which include Radiohead-tinged arpeggios ("Beach"), swirling background ambience ("Wheel") and back-masked chords mixed with pseudo-tribal chants ("Right Away"). But even these scattered treats can't save this from being an unmemorable listen. (Jagjaguwar)