Material: By way of introduction, Four Point Restraints claims to embody a “borderline schizophrenic” style. This apt descriptor captures both the beauty and downfall of their unexpected concoction. Listing influences ranging from Captain Beefheart, David Bowie, spaghetti westerns, PJ Harvey, to sea shanties and more, their unique bouillabaisse, as likely to incorporate Celtic elements as that of lounge, remains ephemeral. Their declared genre (rock noir / post punk / dark wave / indie) hints at their style, but their Frankenstein hybrid needs to be heard.
Musicianship: While musically capable, 4PR move beyond ordinary by incorporating harmonica, accordion and violin. Gadowski’s deep, staccato vocals complement thei act's dark aesthetic. Shifting tempos remain their greatest asset, building tension with sludgy, brooding passages before springing forth into high-voltage assaults. Glimpses of brilliance reveal themselves during flashes of unity, yet a plethora of concepts means their stew often turns to mush.
Performance: Reflecting their eclectic nature, each member dresses differently—one in a suit, another as glam rocker, and someone as a folk hipster. The result, both fascinating and perplexing, embodies the double-edged nature of their ambitious scope. Gadowski looks the role but needs better stage presence. It was violinist Ohara who ultimately stole the audience’s attention. Despite this being a release party for their latest album, Vicious Circle, the frontman failed to mention their merch table or all the players. Curiously, the band’s comfort level increased after they’d run through their latest material and moved onto older tunes.
Summary: Having toured extensively since 2010, 4PR have earned an enthusiastic base and it’s easy to understand why. There’s an inherent fascination to this unconventionally stitched formation—with the constant threat of imminent collapse comes pure exhilaration when it doesn’t. But with so many colors on the canvas the dominant motif becomes brown. What’s needed is better overall balance and a specific vision, even if that vision shifts dramatically from song to song.
The Players: Evan Gadowski, vocals, guitar; Will Barry, lead guitar, harmonica; Meagan Day, bass; Mike Cashin, drums; Mei Ohara, violin; Ryan Coomey, accordion, Haley Day, guest vocals.
Photos by Apple Kaufmann
Venue: O'Brien's Pub
City: Somerville, MA