The world may have shifted in significant ways since 2018, but Patois Counselors remain one of the finest bands plying their trade since Proper Release, their debut album, was lavished with all manner of year-end praise from such respected sources as YellowGreenRed and the Bandcamp editorial staff. Recording once again for Ever/Never Records, The Optimal Seat doesn’t alter the formula, but throws enough curveballs at the listener to keep them on their toes. Patois Counselors are specialists, and their expertise lies in the ability to craft a perfect nervous hook, to sculpt their anxious music into addictive hybrids of post-punk pop. Patois Counselors songs overflow with so many winning ideas that it can be easy to gloss over just how succinct and satisfying the end result is. Following that logic, The Optimal Seat is a proper release that delivers what an album once promised -- twelve songs of tense songcraft stuffed with enough flavor to keep your lips smacking, and your fingers snapping, long into the night.
Head Counselor Bo White leads his band through a tangle of needling guitar lines, deft rhythms and adroit synthesizer flourishes like a well- seasoned vet. All of these elements are present and accounted for in the confident kicker “Realities/Series Of Viceroys.” “Don’t Stop The Rattle” flirts with the anthemic while establishing the push-pull dynamics of Patois Counselors. Alternating frantic verses with moments of lucidity, “Probably No One” highlights a compelling undertow that continues throughout the album. “Let Beauty Be” effortlessly executes the kind of rousing new wave that almost no one has managed to get right in the last thirty-odd years. Therein lies the rub -- Patois Counselors are a band that exists now, and The Optimal Seat is beckoning you to sit down. “Give Me Voltage” is a masterclass in utilizing metaphor to peel back the layers of our tech-driven society. White skewers the always-online as they
compile “digital reams of lists,” yet he doesn’t stab from a place above, but rather from within, the fray. The distinction speaks volumes. This is smart music for smart people. Closing out The Optimal Seat, “There Goes Our Guru” strolls right into “Southern Living” like a rural Pere Ubu basking in the sun and gulping great lungfuls of fresh air. Patois Counselors are an immensely capable band, and you can rest assured that they will meet all of your expectations, and then some.