Without the Pain is the upcoming single from Moray’s Be Like Pablo, and heavily features rapper Kuda. The release features two versions of the title track and is rounded off with the guitar driven Love is for the Living.
The single opens with the radio edit of Without the Pain, a laid back pop tune weaved together with the dual vocal effort of lead singer Ewen Watson’s melody and the relaxed, flowing vocal styling of Kuda. The two lead parts are smartly mixed over the top of each other throughout the verses, with Moogist and singer Karen Johnston joining in for the choruses, lifting the song along with the classic quiet verse/loud chorus methods of multiple vocal tracks, guitar distortion and ride cymbal. The song is unfeasibly “posi”, sure to bring a smile to the face and a spring in the step, despite the topic of longing for someone and the angsty vocals. The wet sounding baseline rooted at the bottom of the verses - and the way it moves around the song - is key to the track; particularly the way it changes to accommodate the rapping Kuda in the first two verses. Clearly a very musical and knowledgeable bassist: good job.
Jen Blackburn’s replacement as female vocal/Moogist (Karen Johnston) deserves great credit for taking on the role with aplomb, to the extent that I was taken aback to discover it was not Jen performing on the track. Her vocals at the beginning of the album version are impossibly cute, and embody what Be Like Pablo - and, indeed, powerpop - is all about.
Personally, I prefer the mix of the album version: the second track on the release. The guitar and keys have a warmer sound, and Ewan Watson’s vocals throughout the verses are restrained behind vocal distortion. I feel his vocal style is a bit too exposed on the radio edit, and benefits from the layers added to the choruses in this version. Either way, it is smart to include both in the package. It is a very good pop release that reminds me of 90s pop rock darlings, That Dog (excluding the rap).
The B-side is the more guitar driven Love is for the Living. This is the type of track, among BLP’s repertoire, that draws comparisons to Gods of “College” Rock, Weezer, and early Ben Kweller. There is an undeniable spoonful of McFly in this track also, which tastes great. It contrasts the slower, pickier title track perfectly.
Overall, Without the Pain is a very good example of Ewen Watson’s ever improving songwriting talent, and a great way to keep their momentum going following their debut album and recent appearance at the main stage of the Belladrum festival. Be Like Pablo is a refreshing slice of genuine pop music, at a time where the genre is applied too freely. They are a hard working band that are flagrantly uncool, which I find refreshing in an indie environment that has become overpopulated by copycats with reverb pedals.
Without the Pain by Be Like Pablo is released on the 26th August via Stray Cat Records.