For an album to come out and immediately draw comparisons to one of the most iconic, yet underrated, rock albums of the ‘70s, you have your work cut out for you. In Pete Price’s case, his debut album The Department of the Interior was released to praise — and comparisons to Jackson Browne’s 1976 classic The Pretender.
And honestly… it lives up to the hype and comparisons! There’s a duality in both records that feels unplaceable, as both projects deal with loss and heartache, worry and pain, and, ultimately, love (as is the way with most of life.) Price has finally come around to releasing his debut record after three decades of performing and traveling with The Fries Band, opening for The Guess Who, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Martina McBride, Foghat, Mick Fleetwood, and Kansas, among others, and it’s clear that this record is holding in thirty years’ worth of struggles and emotions. This is The Department of the Interior.
Dealing with twelve tracks in total, The Department of the Interior is a complex and layered record. It has rocking tracks, introspective moments, and songs that feel straight out of a film, and all of it feels earned and natural — the overall arc of the record coming from Pete Price is something missing from most modern albums, but Price is for all intents and purposes not a modern man. His artistry precedes modern standards, and his talent elevates it to a place of age-old class. “Diamonds in the Sky” opens the record with a rush, incendiary guitars with a tone that Carlos Santana would be proud of painting the scene perfectly. The lyrics are morose, but there’s something undeniably universal about them. “When the sky was black / I could not see / that Heaven was waiting for me.”
Overall, The Department of the Interior is a very melancholic and introspective album. There is plenty of self-loathing and loneliness within the lyrics, but the balance of these heavier topics and the love songs is what defines Pete Price as a real, bona fide rockstar. There’s an inkling of singer-songwriter flair deep within Price, but the rockstar paint job gives everything a gloss that gives the record a sense of showmanship. Beyond the moody songs, there’s an ambitious political track that harkens back to the ‘70s with “Common Ground.” It protests the current state of politics within America, calling out the political divide for a chance at unity and people over profit.
“Foolish Heart” is another great addition to the project, tackling the unknown nature of love and romance. Price calls his heart out for being foolish, adding confusion to his life, and crossing his wires with nothing but mixed signals. The Department of the Interior is a record that feels primed for fans of classic rock, the ambitious songs all landing somewhere among the bands that Price grew up on by way of modern production. The mood never loses itself in the emotional whirlpool that the lyrics seem to stir up, and the end result is an album that feels entirely sure of itself and its place in the rock ’n’ roll halls.