There’s an enthralling sense of fearlessness brimming in Pastel Motel‘s sophomore LP, E. A St.. The followup to the alternative four-piece’s 2013 debut Subject is Subjective begins with a majestic three-part trip into pure neo-psychedelia interspersed with some starry space-pop, clocking in at nearly 17 minutes. It’s a bold opening that sees the band diving right into the intriguing experimentation that was teased on their first concept album.
This album actually only consists of six songs, switching between long and obscure tracks like the aforementioned ‘Animalism’ and a mix of more radio-length songs that explore various alternative genres and show off their extensive range of influences. ‘Blanket’, for example, with its distant, howling vocals and lo-fi production, has a somewhat grungy demo feel to it, while the riotous ‘Deprivation’ exudes strong tinges of emo and punk. Middle track ‘Exit 84’, on the other hand, takes things down to a slow, piano-filled ballad with some interesting hints of jazz.
On the whole, E. A St. does what every second album should do: it shows growth. Their massively sweeping kaleidoscopic arrangements call to mind that of Pink Floyd which they then infuse with a contemporary bite that echoes the likes of Modest Mouse and Manchester Orchestra. Progressive indie pop is their main weapon, however, with the 12-part title track that, standing at staggering 20 minutes and featuring some lightning guitar work, perfectly demonstrates the sheer euphoric power of their music. It’s daring stuff, even if it can prove a bit tedious towards the end.
Perhaps the most intriguing track comes in the form of ‘Time Traveling’, the album’s closer. Beginning with a decidedly Eastern sound filled with bongo beats and even a sitar, it’s quickly replaced by a steady marching beat and ominous bass riff that soon tumbles into a raw and emotional cataclysm of sound that wouldn’t feel that out of place in a dystopian apocalypse movie.
The alternative rock bands of the 90s are the clearest influence with Pastel Motel, but there’s a distinct modernness to them with their innovative fusion of progressive indie pop that their previous album lacked. While this second entry into their discography may be messier and less coherent, it does fit in well with their reputation for some hectic and largely improvisational live performances, and also proves why there’s still a welcome place for underground avant-garde music such as this.
E. A St. is available for pre-order here on April 15th.
Words by Samantha King