With a career spanning almost six years, the prolific Past Mistakes is still in transition. Evolution and musical growth is the band's trademark, but this doesn't exactly mean the band would find itself in the progressive or experimental categories. The band's first and foremost goal is creating songs that stand alone and work within the context of an entire thematically based collection. In this case, The Purgatory LP finds Past Mistakes at an artistic acme, fusing heartfelt sentiment with musical abstraction and a firm footing in the structural dynamics of "big" melodic rock.
In an era when trite teenage melodrama seems to be the most important subject anyone can address, Past Mistakes hit back with true sincerity. Emotional but not "emo," lyricist Chase Valentine tackles the hot-button issues of post-adolescense with grit, guts and an occasional flash of humor (or at least empathy). By no means "coming of age" music, The Purgatory LP poses the fundamental question, "I've made it to adulthood relatively unscathed, so now what?" The album exists as a reflection, a premonition and an assessment of the here-and-now: life is a permanent transition where there are never any easy answers.
Occupying a musical netherworld that is both forward-looking and rooted in the traditions of rock's rich history, Past mistakes have honed an alloy of sound that owes as much to the melodicism of The Smiths and The Jam as it does to the transcendent explorations of Sigur Ros, Mogwai and Radiohead.
Guitarist Tyler Chen keeps listeners guessing with an array of effects and guitar manipulations that simply must be experienced through headphones. Sure, The Purgatory LP is introspective and features layer upon layer of sonic textures. But its rock roots (pounded home by percussionist Robert Koons) are easily accessible and undeniable.
Bottom line, The Purgatory LP is good music that falls into only one category, rock. The band has somehow managed to meld a variety of influences into a solid alloy that is simultaneously challenging, engaging and causes some appropriate rump shaking. These days it's rare to find a band that defies category without being purposely "weird" or eclectic. Past Mistakes pulls this off in spades, creating timeless rock that succeeds on both cerebral and visceral levels.
-John Sewell (Mean Street Magazine)
released November 23, 2004
Recorded and mastered by Robert Koons at The Burning Tree Studios during the spring/summer of 2004. Photography by Ashleigh New, layout by The Burning Tree (Interactive).