Album Review: The Pack A.D. – ‘Do Not Engage’

Like a storm rolling across the prairies, The Pack A.D.’s second full-length effort begins with thundering drums and static guitar work on “Airborne”, previewing the sounds to come with its swirling phased-guitar sweeps contrasting crystal-clear vocals. This push-pull effect of sweet and dirty dominates an album that calls to mind classic 90’s girl-grunge at its best.
It’s the little things not immediately apparent upon first listen that make Do Not Engage more than a simple collection of succinct rock and roll songs. Tasteful tambourine overdubs; thick handclaps on the chorus (“Big Shot”); booming drum tone, and just the right amount of guitar crunch transform basic verse/chorus songs into something worthy of repeated listens. The sparkle added by veteran producer Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Electric Six) shines throughout (pardon the puns), along with nicely layered vocal harmonies creating an angelic overtone to the saturated distortion that dominates the album.

The Pack A.D. – “Big Shot” [Official Music Video]

The girl-girl duo of Becky Black (guitar/vocals) and Maya Miller (drums) are no novelty act, with four previous full-lengths on Mint Records already under their belt, and having now signed with Nettwerk, their steady rise shows no signs of slowing down. Neither does the album, as it plods into multi-tracked guitar solos on “Animal,” crash-bang choruses on “Creepin’ Jenny,” and slow-burns its way through “Battering Ram.”


The Pack A.D. – “Battering Ram” [Official Music Video]

The B-side lays out some dirty blues on “Stalking is Normal” before taking a mellower turn on a trio of songs that demonstrate a more atmospheric approach, showing they can deliver more nuanced material than simply the soft/loud ragers they’ve become so well-loved for. Of special note is the closer “Needles,” with Black taking a solo turn featuring sparse guitar work and delicately conversational vocals that provides a haunting and introspective finale to the album.

Catch them ripping across the prairies in late February and early March, including a stop here in Calgary on March 1 at The Republik.

Tyler Stewart

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