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Pearl & the Oysters - Flowerland Music Album Reviews

Pearl & the Oysters - Flowerland Music Album Reviews
The third album from the duo of Juliette Pearl Davis and Joachim Polack takes on the soft psychedelic hues of Stereolab and Wendy Carlos, shot through with malaise and a curious sense of overstimulation. 

Pearl & the Oysters have always indulged in pleasurable excess. Juliet Pearl Davis (Pearl) and Joachim Polack (The Oysters)—school friends from Paris who left their homeland for Gainesville, Florida in the mid '10s and never looked back—make synth sounds you can sink your teeth into, gooey guitar licks that stick to the roof of your mouth, and vocal harmonies so syrupy they linger on your tastebuds. These qualities were present on their self-titled 2017 debut and even more prevalent on their second album, 2018’s Canned Music. On Flowerland, the whorl of Rhodes keys and sparkling synth tones that herald opener “Soft Science” introduce their complex textures, building on the work of favorites such as Stereolab, Wendy Carlos, and Os Mutantes. Polack lays down a gummy bassline that melts into the meat of the track, as Davis’ persuades guest Kuo-Hung Tseng, of Taipei art-pop quintet Sunset Rollercoaster, to join her at the beach.

Tseng is one of 24 collaborators on Flowerland, who variously sit in on traditional pop instruments, as well as lap steel, electric sitar, tack piano, and the vibraslap. Other than Tseng’s contribution to “Soft Science,” though, the only auxiliary vocals come from Dent May on the hyper-saccharine “Candy”; Davis sings all the other songs alone. This is a good thing: Neither Tseng’s nor May’s vocals are gritty enough to cut through Davis’ sweet soprano melodies, and in the absence of a true foil, her gift is best presented alone.

Davis and Polack recorded Flowerland piecemeal in Gainesville, New York, Paris, and Los Angeles, where they moved just before COVID-19 hit American shores. Settling into a new city as the world shut down put them in a contemplative mood. Even the bubblegum back-and-forth of the title track touches on the alienation they felt upon arrival. The trippy fuzz guitar on “Crocodile” belies feelings of boredom, loneliness, screen addiction, and creative stagnation brought on by prolonged periods spent indoors. And the flirtatious call-and-response of “Soft Science” references Polack’s attempts to juggle coursework as a musicology Ph.D. student with the responsibilities of a working artist. Still, these fleeting references to serious subjects breeze by too quickly to produce any real emotional conflict. The duo communicates through overstimulation, and their frenetic production clouds any dissonance between music and lyrics before you have time to recognize it.

Pearl & the Oysters’ most poignant tracks convey snippets of imagery without context. “The sound of waves come crashing on the shore, Pier 64,” a nostalgic refrain from Canned Music standout “Mermaid Parade,” evokes a visceral tremble. Flowerland’s closest analog is its only certifiable slow burn, “Evening Sun.” Its simple chorus—“Colors are circling around/Turning your head upside down/My feet aren’t touching the ground/On the merry-go-round”—isn’t poetry on its own, but the comparatively spartan arrangement behind Davis’ voice allows it to shine through the mix and transport you.

When misdirected, however, Davis and Polack’s tendency to stimulate every nerve ending at once can backfire. The most puzzling choice on Flowerland is their cover of Caetano Veloso’s “Baby,” one of the greatest love songs of all time—and a subtle critique of imported American capitalism. Referring back to the rawness of the original 1968 Gal Costa version, or Os Mutantes’ mystical redux from the same year, would have offered Davis the opportunity to access a new expressive dimension. Instead, they reprise Os Mutantes’ 1971 rendition of the song—a whimsical, English-language flip—which sanitizes the track of both its beauty and its satire. The result is the same unpleasant sugar rush you get from listening to a loungey Beatles cover, or downing a full gallon of Hawaiian Punch. Luckily, the rest of the album is much more fulfilling. Pearl & the Oysters’ lush, pillowy tracks are lovely to listen to, even when they don’t leave much room for reflection.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Pearl & the Oysters - Flowerland Music Album Reviews Pearl & the Oysters - Flowerland Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, October 05, 2021 Rating: 5

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