The blues-tinged rock trio Pelvic Girdles has been playing together since 2001, but this year's Sad Hammer marks the group's first full-length release. No matter: It's doubtful that the band has drastically changed styles or incorporated any passing trends in that time. On the record, Pelvic Girdles comes across as an older, wizened bar band, one that's able to provide a little head-nodding grist with subdued songs about the vagaries of middle age. It's telling that the penultimate track "It So Is," with its bemused take on faded glory, can get away with a line like, "I'm a roiling mass of issues" without sounding the least bit self-pitying. A younger band would turn the song into a screed, but Pelvic Girdles sees flashes of hope in an ash heap of broken dreams.
At their best, these songs show strains of sinewy blues music that simmers rather than scorches — the clanging beat that punctuates "Red Shoes White Socks" doesn't interrupt the hypnotic and folksy guitar pattern that recalls the intuitive touch of early Fairport Convention. Elsewhere, the riffs are more simple and direct, as on the chugging "G Thang" and the shimmying "Tweet." At nearly an hour in length, Sad Hammer outstays its welcome by about fifteen minutes; there are too many overlong guitar solos and self-indulging bits (like the cricket-noise "Intro" and "Outro") and not enough variety to keep the needle jumping. And while there are no real moments of rock & roll genius, there are also no out-and-out duds. And that's just as well — at this point, Pelvic Girdles seems content just to keep the car between the lines and take the road as far as it will go.
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