Pat Thomas has been known as a driving singing/writing/bass-playing force behind San Francisco band Cool Ghouls for years and, over those years, in tandem with the band's group effort, has cultivated an interesting voice as a solo act. "Solo" isn't really the correct word though because the tracks on I Ain't Buyin' It showcase recordings complete with fully fleshed out arrangements, not unlike other ambitious California classics like The Beach Boys or Love. These comparisons seem lazy, given the obvious associations of the west coast with this sort of sonic imagery, which bands from San Francisco or LA - but SF especially - are seldom able to shake off. But at the entry point of this record, you welcome it as you would a lover of this style.
As this album's initial feeling moves forward, you get better acquainted with Thomas’s idiosyncratic song-writing and production style, which are playful and groovy and light-hearted. But these songs also convey a deeper inner dialogue which reflects the inherent paradox of life in a city such as San Francisco, or many other American cities. The feeling of general displacement and falling victim to commerce is real. A feeling that includes everything from the seduction of empty suburban idealism, to the city being robbed of its creative force by pointless commerce, to the entire USA being literally robbed from Native Americans. It's hard to maintain a positive outlook when one reflects on the depth of this situation, but Thomas has succeeded in presenting a way to embrace these circumstances: through this music. From The Beach Boys Friends-era wellness sing-along style on "Are You Okay", to the almost Curtis Mayfield-style mantra of "Give The Land To The People", you see that our situation somehow calls for celebration, a spirit that music has forever represented.
Music has always been a way to raise one's spirit to a higher place, despite life’s hardships. Music is material proof that all is not lost! In fact the opposite. And the emotion expressed in music proves that hardship is real, regardless of who you are or where you live. There is always something which cannot be lost and, with music like this, you can conjure a spirit that suggests a world of better possiblities. I Ain't Buyin' It is sung mainly by Thomas in his characteristic projectile voice, a thing of confidence and delivery, except the song "Reflection Chamber" which features C. Claire Doyle on lead vocals - a welcome beautiful melodic respite à la Judy Dyble circa Giles, Giles & Fripp. It culminates with a big group vocal by Thomas and other ghouls. For someone who has seen the amazing growth of the Cool Ghouls, you will similarly be impressed by this new piece by Pat Thomas.