PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER: “No Parachute DVD Review V/A (Happy Happy Birthday to Me) Philly's own Overlord almost steals the show with the hauntingly bleak love song "Landlubber" and its equally stark single-shot, black-and-white video. In it, singer George Pasles emerges backward from the ocean, his clothes becoming ever drier as waves pull away from him and he reaches the shore. For a second, he turns to face the camera before time switches from reverse to forward and his journey into the ocean begins. Eventually his head slips beneath the water and you fear the worst. You can't do that on television.” Review by Patrick Rapa.
SSMT: “No, Overlord is NOT a metal band, but they sure make some tasty pop music. A far more somber affair than its predecessor (2001's The Wonderful World of Chemistry), The World Takes is a diverse and often gorgeous collection of reverb-drenched, lo-fi pop songs. Band mastermind George Pasles, a Pennsylvania-based one-time calculus professor, has found a near-perfect balance of shoegazer rock (the Slowdive-influenced "Secrets in Pairs"), folk ("Warm Body"), Smiths-derived mope-rock ("A Boy in Name Only"), and fuzzy pop ("The Brand New Panic"). It can be said that Pasles looks to the recent past for his influences, but he is not content to straddle one artistic fence. The bevy of instrumentation and depth of emotion found on such tracks as "Landlubber" and the aforementioned "Warm Body" are worth the price of admission alone, but special mention must go the 11-minute epic "Stillbornagain". Highly recommended.” Review by Alec A. Head.
INKBLOT MAGAZINE: “...Overlord, whose brilliant album title (The World Takes -- what up Trenton!) more than compensates for their crap band name. Oh, and there's music, and it's pretty fab, a kind of powerpop Smiths whose lyrical conceits and easy tunes should shame anyone who bought into last year's alleged Morrissey comeback. Emperor Moz has no clothes, kids, Overlord nicked his robes....” Review by Jesse Fahnestock.
SPLENDID E-ZINE: “Who knew the '80s would make such a strong comeback? Before you roll your eyes at the thought of yet another new wave revival act bouncing to cheesy dance pop synthesizers, you should be aware that this isn't the aspect of '80s music Overlord most adores. Nor is it hair metal, although the band name does scream Aqua Net and spandex. Instead, Overlord worships at the alter of mope-rockers like Joy Division, The Cure and The Smiths, and you can bet all of those bands' fingerprints are smeared all over songs like "Landlubber" and "Secrets In Pairs". However, it isn't all tortured romanticism for this Philadelphia group. While it's true that you'd probably never tag Overlord head honcho George Pasles's writing as vivacious, he does demonstrate a certain knack for spare, bubbling, almost-upbeat pop. Lyrics like "So there's one / and only one / person that you will know / and if you're lucky / they'll stick around till you go" still lumber "One And Only One" with an aura of melancholy, but that doesn't stop Storm Tower from occasionally oozing sweet pop goodness. Any band that can employ a ukulele as convincingly as Overlord does on "Warm Bodies" obviously isn't concerned that all its songs can be neatly filed into a single genre. Whether it's the Beach Boys-like pop of "A Boy In Name Only" and "A Brand New Panic", "Human To The Corps"'s surf rock, or the brooding yet strangely sunny "Give It Up! Let It Go!", Pasles isn't afraid to dabble in whatever genre strikes his fancy. All of these songs seem vaguely familiar: you'll be almost certain you've heard them somewhere before, and you'll instinctively feel comfortable with them. That could likely be misinterpreted as a criticism, and it probably would be if it were aimed at any of the of uninspired leg warmer-wearing synth-pop bands currently battling for the retro throne. Maybe calling Overlord's material familiar implies that it's recycled, unoriginal and uncalled for, but that's definitely not the case. Perhaps merely telling you that you need to hear these songs is the most direct and sensible approach.” Review by Trevor Fisher.
EXCLAIM! (CANADA): " ...overlord revel in the echoed, hazy indie pop that fans of the Smiths and early ’90s British bands like Adorable based their short but memorable careers on. There is much variation to the composition of the songs, but befitting the name, there is a definite vision of how everything should come together. Opener “Room Enough” is the blueprint of the Overlord sound, and it works wonderfully, with the slight British tinge of Pasles’ voice either enchanting or providing fodder for easy derision. “Give It Up! Let It Go!” comes closest to the Murmurs-era R.E.M. and combined with evocative, “Landlubber” furthers the notion that Pasles is a bit of a music historian. Hiding behind quips and big ideas — the liner notes state that “overlord is a federally-funded reason-based initiative” and with their e-mail address “all questions answered, all answers questioned” — Overlord actually have made a wonderful, if not too deep, piece of dreamy pop goodness. Its feet are firmly in the near past, but this could also easily stand among contemporary torch-bearers like Stars. Like the epic closer, “Stillbornagain,” The World Takes may be easy to encapsulate on surface, but it is only through time that its sheer sonic delights truly come forward." Review by Chris Whibbs.
VILLAGE VOICE: "Voice Choices: George Pasles, a Philly hybrid of Morrissey and Stephin Merritt who strangely calls himself Overlord (and tours with a band), may well do both men justice, thanks to his dandified singing and quaint melodies alike." Show preview by Chuck Eddy.
VANITY PROJECT ZINE (UK): “...Rather than the metal band they sound like, we’re in Magnetic Fields territory with Chills-like melancholy at root. It’s a cold grind at times and seems to take a very English approach. Apparently two versions of Overlord were in operation on each US coast performing Pasles’ songs. Anyone care to form an English version?” Review by Skif.
PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER: "On The World Takes (Storm Tower), the fifth release from Philadelphian George Pasles' one-man project, he hones to a razor's edge his brooding, 1980s-style synth pop. Pasles' ethos -- which nods to kindred spirits Morrissey and Stephin Merritt -- celebrates dark clouds, not silver linings. Even on the superficially chipper, toy-piano-enlivened "Warm Body," Pasles sings cynically, "Better here than on your own/ Better me than all alone." Dour, yes, but the hooks get under your skin." Review by Brian Howard.CMJ NEW MUSIC MONTHLY: “Hearing overlord for the first time, you might assume the group is a latecomer to the ‘80s revival, or just aping the Magnetic Fields. But George Pasles' one-man Pennsylvania band has been turning out first-rate, '80s-style Manchester mope-rock since the mid- '90s, and it's about time the rest of the world caught up to his personal retro-revolution. overlord revels in the austere beauty of a haunting synth peppered with a four-note guitar lead and spare, driving snare hits. Every song drifts along at nearly the same misty pace while remaining ever so slightly distinct: The 10-minute-plus "Stillbornagain“ melts and slides with a backwards-masking effect that suggests a harmonium; a spry ukulele and toy vibraphone perk up "Warm Body." Yet none of it overwhelms Pasles' guttural pining, as he oozes out lines like, "The sad are wretched/ And the happy are merely wrong/ And you shift your pitch/ To match who you'll string along." While Pasles‘ lyrics may be maudlin, his melodies temper the melodrama with economic refrains that soothe and celebrate each song's dour glory. overlord reminds you that you needn't look back in shame at '80s angst. Just leave the Kohl eyeliner and dippity-do in the drawer. File Under: Mope-rock; Recommended If You Like: The Magnetic Fields, Joy Division, New Order.” Review by Neil Gladstone.
SSMT: "My exposure to Overlord stems from a number of select live tracks and a few tracks off of their most recent album, The World Takes. I was very impressed by their brand of melancholic, reverb-heavy pop. From listening to their debut EP, one would be surprised to find that this is the same band. Not to say that this debut recording is bad by any stretch of the imagination. Quite the contrary, in fact. While Overlord, at this stage in its existence, bore a sound that was more redolent of The Beach Boys and the Apples in Stereo than the Smiths, there still existed a strong sense of songwriting, not to mention an almost-epic, wall of sound production, as the deluge of reverb-laden vocal harmonies would indicate. The album’s centerpiece, “The Germ Theory of Thought”, is a magnificent track that hints at the band’s more depressive characteristics. The same can be said about the almost-shoegazer sounding “Girls Watching Boys Watching Girls”. It is good to hear that bands such as the utterly incredible Arcade Fire and Overlord are here to give us an interesting take on old ideas. This is an interesting, all-too short EP that should be heard by all fans of good pop music." Review by Alec A. Head.
SHREDDING PAPER: "overlord - The Wonderful World of Chemistry CD. No, it's not some heavy metal devil worshipping band as their name might imply, but rather an indie fuzz pop band with plenty of odes to the Beach Boys on a couple of songs, especially on some of the "ba ba ba" vocal harmonies. Sounding a lot like the Bats or the Chills in melody and voice, this Philadelphia area band also has the balls to call their last song "The 70th Love Song" as an ode to Stephin Merritt's 69 Love Songs opus, and frankly, it could have easily fit right in. A surprisingly fun pop release, full of charm and beauty." Review by Steve Yaver.
THE BIG TAKEOVER: "The Wonderful World Of Chemistry Mini-LP: Philadelphia's Overlord pens sweet whimsical, lo-fidelity pop that compensates for its lack of musical density with effortlessly true multi-part singing harmonies and overall good taste. Primary member George Pasles pays homage to Guided By Voices' brand of diverse, pure and short pop via Beach Boys, Kinks, and even early The Cure on "The Germ Theory of Thought." Actually, the standout is the sublime "Girls Watching Boys Watching Girls" which is so beautiful in its soft, choral tonality, that it should be a carol. This is an unequivocally pleasant six songer. " Review by Paul Regelbrugge.
ALTERNATIVE PRESS: “Sounds Scanned: Rating: 9 [out of 10]. Who: Philadelphia-based indie-rock combo. Sounds like: Fuzzy pop laced with tasty melodies and retro-style production. How is it? One of those bands that sounds like a hundred others while maintaining their own distinct sound. This six-song EP bodes well for Overlord. Kindred spirits: Beach Boys, Magnetic Fields, Joe Meek." Review by Todd Hutlock.
CMJ NEW MUSIC MONTHLY: “Don't let Overlord's metallic moniker fool you: Images of snarling aggro-rockers may come to mind, but that's certainly not the band's m.o. Instead, the West Philadelphia trio bubbles to the brim with melodic pop goodness. The title of Overlord's third full-length, The Wonderful World of Chemistry, is dead-on: The six George Pasles compositions included here are not unlike a pop-music experiment, fusing disparate elements that come together in a graceful, college radio-friendly mix that’s happy, peppy and bursting with love. "Populist Anthem" fizzles with the jangly guitars and endless-summer harmonies that make indie-pop kids swoon with delight, and "Meet the Situation Artist" is the sort of new wave synth pop that has recently returned to fashion. The pep of those two tracks serves as a pleasant introduction to the epic Brit-pop mope-fest "The Germ Theory of Thought" and the breathy dreaminess of "Girls Watching Boys Watching Girls". Lest anyone still think that musical declarations of death and destruction are still part of Overlord's repertoire, the EP's final track, "The 70th Love Song," flagrantly displays love for the Magnetic Fields much-revered 69 Love Songs, in name, mood, and lovelorn wit. File Under: Pop goes the world; Recommended If You Like: The Magnetic Fields, Apples in Stereo, the Smiths” Review by Stephanie Valera.
MAGNET MAGAZINE: "The Wonderful World of Chemistry EP (Storm Tower) not only has the most accurate titular self-description since Stereolab's Space Age Bachelor Pad Music, its six songs spark the kind of tingly chemical reactions in the listener's brain normally reserved for head-ons with obscure Beach Boys and Kinks bootlegs, Joe Meek wall of sound productions and the stray Elephant-6-collective neo-psychedelic jam session." Review by Fred Mills.
PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER: "It takes balls to write a track and name it "The 70th Love Song," an obvious nod to Stephin Merritt’s 1999 Magnetic Fields three-disc holy grail 69 Love Songs. Yet there it is, the final track on this six-song EP from Overlord (who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The oddly named band (they’re really not a metal band, a point they hammer home repeatedly) pulls off the trick, however, with an appropriately sappy pop homage and nifty lyrics about boys, love and science ("Some boys’ lips are made for smiles/ Some boys’ lips are made for sutures"). Not only is it an impressive feat of songwriting mimicry, but a bit of a clue to what makes George Pasles’ band tick. Prior releases like 1998’s A Finishing Picture and ’99’s two-song Transparent Tunes could be classified as uneven: full of thoughtful stylistic influences from late ’80s/early ’90s British mope-pop but without a unifying aesthetic. While The Wonderful World of Chemistry is a bit here-and-there, too, Pasles’ musical vision is becoming sharper. The Craig Wedren-esque falsetto of album opener "Atonal" makes for an interesting leap to the AM radio jangle of "Populist Anthem" which in turn leads to the Bats-influenced lo-fi indie pop of "Meet the Situation Artist." A scientific theme saturates the proceedings. It’s plenty to convince you that there’s a cold, crooked smile on the faces of these dour poppers as they toil away in their lab." Review by Brian Howard.
ELLEGIRL: “The Soundtracks to Our Lives. All of us here at ELLEgirl have playlists that get us through the day—find out which tunes inspire us... overlord- Longsleeves All Summer Long: Stand in your bedroom; turn this great Philly [band] up loud; pretend you're in the band; go straight to heaven.” Review by Coco McPherson.PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: "That's My Jam: Longsleeves All Summer Long, Storm Tower Records. If there were a show on the WB that speculated what Joy Division would be like as well-to-do, cynical, funny and sweet American teenagers–and why isn’t there, I ask you?–overlord would have those roles cold. Having gone through a record five drummers in one year–and still playing shows to 40 people (if they’re lucky)–overlord have nevertheless issued a coup de grace, a testament to the downtroddenness of the human spirit. "Longsleeves" pogos along in the manner of the best early Factory singles or first Cure album. "Well, it’s a funny world we live in/ And by ‘funny,’ I mean not funny at all" taunts the opening line of this teenage call to arms, a sort of "Bela Legosi’s Dead" for all the kids who thought that song was a little too scary for its own good. Instead, "Longsleeves" carries on with the tempo of "Turning Japanese" and the fervent commentary of the Smiths’ "Panic." It takes guts to make music like this, and even more to live the tunes in the way that overlord does. I mean, how many times can you be asked, "Aren't you hot in that?" anyway?". Transparent Tunes review by Joey Sweeney.
PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER: "Remember what the world was like before Prozac? When
black wasn't an outfit of rage, but a sign that you're just a despondent
wretch who hangs out in his room, reads a lot of Oscar Wilde and pines away to
the tune of the new Smiths record? George Pasles wants to take Philadelphia
back to those days. That's why he's organized Mopestock—an evening where
people are encouraged to dig out the Dunhills, leave the medication behind and
wallow in the moody pop sounds of Pasles' band, Overlord .
The dour, '80s-style songs from the quartet's latest album, A Finishing
Picture , mull over Pasles feeling like an expatriate of the Prozac
Nation (got a prescription, never tried it), having bouts with anorexia
(always wound up getting hungry) and moaning over life in the suburbs (well,
that one's kind of obvious).Don't be fooled by Pasles' over-the-top
lyrics—he's no poseur when it comes to being bummed out. Highly
allergic to cats, the singer spent a good portion of his childhood in hospital
oxygen tents trying to recover from life-threatening asthma attacks. You'd
think those long, isolated days would make him want to appreciate life.Au
contraire. "It seems selfish to me to be happy when there are people
who've had it much worse," reasons Pasles, 23, who still lives in his father's
house in Lower Bucks County. The Penn graduate has attempted to make it in the
real world, yet most of his experiences with employment end relatively
quickly. The mathematics major has gone through a spate of odd jobs, such as
being a crossword puzzle tester for Games magazine. ("They call it
something like 'crossword data entry' to make it seem less
demeaning.")Luckily, his father, an accountant, needed some help during tax
season, so the band still has money to blow on recording tape. The other
members of Overlord, who are all either former or current Penn students,
aren't such misfits, notes Pasles."I find their sanity very terrifying."That
attitude may explain why Overlord has gone through seven different lineups
since Pasles founded the band in high school. It certainly explains why
Mopestock celebrates the 40th birthday of Morrissey—one of Pasles' great
heroes."He had the persona down perfect."The leader of Overlord might not be
able to muster the sullen sarcasm of that charming man, but he's well on his
way.Oh, and does Pasles have an "outfit of rage"?"Yeah, I like to wear baby
blue acid wash jeans… but, don't worry. If I were packing heat you'd know.
Those things leave nothing to the imagination. Mopestock, featuring
Overlord, Legend of Boggy Creek and Marvy Darling, will play Thu., May 13, at
Upstairs at Nick's, 16 S. Second St., 215-928-0665." Show preview by Neil
PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER: "HearHere: A Finishing Picture's mix of minor-melodic vocals, driving guitar riffs and tom-tom heavy drum licks recalls what was great about early '80s mope rock. Remember when music could be peppy, pensive and mournful at the same time? The brooding, synthesizer-driven ballads display an affection for the Magnetic Fields. Ah, if only John Hughes were making teen angst flicks these days…" A Finishing Picture disc review by Neil Gladstone.
PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: "Editor's Picks: overlord. This West Philly quartet's latest album, A Finishing Picture , plays fast and loose with its influences: early New Order, early Cure, early Smiths... overlord picks among these flowers well, and we'd like to take this time to mention that this is the most audaciously, sublimely unfashionable release we've heard this year. We applaud their courage, wit and determination. overlord celebrates the release of this petite gem tonight. Go. Wed., Dec. 9, 10 p.m. The Khyber, 56 S. Second St." Show preview by Joey Sweeney.
PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: "Little-known three-year-old local band Overlord's constantly morphing roster now includes singer/guitarist George Pasles,Asif Khan, Ben Daniels and Sarah Brockett, though they've played only in combinations of three. The only constant member is Pasles; it's fair to say he's the overlord of Overlord. Despite the consistently dark nature of his conversation, the 22-year-old Pasles is eager to talk, constantly joking and fidgeting and genuinely touched to receive any attention whatsoever -- even from a waitress. He constantly apologizes for having a short attention span. "Music is irrelevant," Pasles says. "Mathematics -- it's the only thing that has any value. It adds to the catalogue of human knowledge. It can't be disputed." The recent Penn graduate has a love-hate relationship with music, among most other things. The band is currently recording new material, though Pasles insists he thinks about throwing in the towel every week or so, for worry over creative control. He's not too keen on playing live. He's petrified of the record business, though he does hope Overlord gets signed -- his other primary concern is his earning potential. He's going broke, like most musicians, and isn't sure a mathematics degree is going to land him a job where he "doesn't have to wear slacks." "But the music industry, it's a slippery slope," Pasles says. "So many people 'advise' you. Everyone has a say. The flip side, though, is becoming the house band at some dive because I, you know, 'stuck to my guns.'" Will power is something Pasles has in spades -- he has stuck with one of the worst band names of all time; he's never tried cigarettes, beer or drugs ("People are like amphetamines," he says); and he has eaten the same food, without exception, every day for the past four years (a turkey sandwich for lunch, pasta marinara for dinner). "I don't really like being me," Pasles says, after apologizing for acting like a psychotherapy patient. "I think the less attractive people on Planet Earth are meant to fawn over the rest. But I guess it's bad sportsmanship to cry about not looking good. I'm sorry." Like most every suburban kid (in Pasles' case, Bucks County), he's had his ups and downs. The downs are where he freely admits he gets most of his inspiration. "I guess I had to experience genuine pain," he says, almost contentedly. "My romantic life was destroyed by the cold light of reason. And somebody has to get mad about it." Pasles doesn't turn to the Lord for solace, either. Between his love for math and his utter bewilderment with humanity is the heart of an atheist. "I believe the entire human experience can be broken down into a series of equations," Pasles says. "People are just collections of proteins that gravity has thrown together and evolved over five billion years." On the band's first record, No, It's Not Metal, Pasles wrote, sang and played everything but the drums. (The liner notes conclude with "Special thanks to me for doing everything myself as usual.") It's a well-conceived, well-executed and well-produced little gem that's not nearly as fatalistic as Pasles would have you believe. Whether it's the peppy Devo-esque paean to atheism ("Am I Wrong?") to the Cure-ish bombast of "Esspy" to the Flock of Seagulls dreaminess of "Filler" to the Smiths jangle of "Why Can't I," No, It's Not Metal is still a pretty upbeat record. Whether he wants to admit it or not, it's Pasles' music that is his higher power. Overlord plays PW's Absolutely Free show on Wednesday, April 8, at the Pontiac Grille." Show preview by Jill MacDowell.
MTVONLINE'S OUT FROM THE UNDERGROUND: "If you can imagine the sound of a hundred forks falling down a hill, and then go further and envision the jangle to not only be pleasant, but to be catchy, then you've successfully built Underlord in your head. Throw in a little Nosferatu and some candle wax, and you'll find "Delayed Past Thinking" to be a pleasant and original dream." 'Delayed Past Thinking' video review.
PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: "Editor's Picks: A trio of
young'uns out in West Philly... decided to scrap their homework in favor of a
dark passion called rock music. They slapped a metal moniker on themselves and
started producing some of the most infectious synth-goth-psych-pop we've heard
in Philly in a while...Upstairs at Nicks." Show preview by Jill MacDowell.
PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: "DISC LIST: THIS WEEK'S RECORDS...**** (four stars of four) ...proud to say this awesome record comes straight outta West Philly... It's heavy, heavily infectious new wave that plays like the soundtrack to an action and fang packed episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; recommended if you like My Dad Is Dead or Ultra Vivid Scene...Exceptional." Filler review by Jill MacDowell.
---------- For fairness and accuracy in reporting, overlord has also been panned by:
- Rockpile Magazine. Review by Alan Pinkerton.
- Time Out New York. Author unknown, though we have suspects.
- Roctober . Author unknown.