It’s very fitting that the cover of Pillar Point’s sophomore effort, Marble Mouth, is quite colorful, bursting with sweet red, tangy orange, vibrant yellow, groovy green and electric blue. Plus, a little black thrown in for good measure, perhaps to represent the dark side within all of us. It’s one of those instances where you can judge an album by its cover because the cover tells the whole story right there, you almost don’t need to listen to it to know what it sounds like. I suppose that might sound ridiculous, but I’m stating it anyway because, well, I feel like it’s worth saying for the interest of those who will get it.
The album kicks off with a sexy number called “Part Time Love,” which features some magnificent bursts of bright synth wrapped up by ’80’s style drum beats and super funky bass guitar noodling. To be honest, I couldn’t always understand the lyrics, the vocals rather processed, but somehow that seemed arbitrary. Then again, it would have that effect on me because I listen to so much music in foreign languages that I don’t know. But, hey, even if music in foreign languages pisses you the hell off, you’ll be able to decipher enough of this to get the point, even if it’s vague, so don’t get bent out of shape. Besides, the following song, “Black Fly on a White Wall” is plenty understandable so just try to chill out during the roughly four minutes of the opening track and get to this. You will dig it. Of course, I’m not promising that the lyrics will make sense to you, just that you’ll understand the words. Suffice to say there’s some poetic justice happening here and it’s quite marvelous. Oh, and there’s almost a Jamaican vibe to the way it starts out, giving it a playful vibe. Fun!
Some of the beats in the beginning to “Strange Brush” remind me of “Terrible Lie” by Nine Inch Nails as they thump along but soon you’ve got what sounds like keytar put through an effects pedal that makes it sound like grimy bass guitar, but I highly doubt that’s actually how they made it. That doesn’t matter very much though; the song could easily be played on acoustic guitar and bongos. And that’s what you want with synth pop, music that could be stripped down and still be a song after you take away the heat lamp synths and drum machines. Of course, this is not your typical synth pop. Lately, the average synth pop sounds nice for five minutes but then you realize every song sounds exactly the same by the time you’re halfway through listening to it, so you get annoyed and listen to something else. Then there’s the fact that most synth pop these days is sung by female vocalists, as if the guy’s voices aren’t pretty enough to go with all of the fluttery purples and powdery pinks their synthesizers constantly churn out because they never learned to color with the Crayola 64 pack. No, Marble Mouth is the antithesis of that, these guys coloring in the synth with lots of different colors, so much so that you’ll feel like you’re looking into a kaleidoscope when you hear it.
I also have to say that this would be excellent music to play at your local gallery if you’re having a drink and draw event. But not some high art gallery where the artists want to charge 2500 dollars for a painting you look at and think “my dog could paint better than that.” A regular, down to earth gallery where the artists charge 120 for a lush illustration because they’re more interested in sharing their work than getting rich off their talent. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting rich off you’re art. (I hope that happens for this band.) I’m just saying, this music inspires creativity. The average Joe, who doesn’t think he has an artistic bone in his body, would probably want to create something while listening to this. I listen to it and I want to draw as it fills me with energy. And I want to write about it, hence this review. Or perhaps you might listen to it on your iPhone or “smart” device or whatever bloody tablet you have while chilling out in a cafe, in which case it might prompt you to write a brilliant short story or at least get inventive while doing your homework if that’s you’re thing. But I say why do homework right this minute, pick up an instrument and make some music, dudes and dudettes, excitedly playing along to this. You’ll have a wild time. You might play like shit but at least you’ll be doing something with buzz you’ll get off of listening to this. Pick up one of your children’s toy instruments and play along to “Lafayette” or “Playtime.” (Yes, they actually have a song on here called “Playtime,” so I’m not imagining the volume of creatively the record overflows with, seeping from the band’s instruments and vocals right into your brain like a shot of tequila.) It was practically invented for this reason. These cats want to electrify the listener with this music, give ya a real jolt. If everything I’ve written here is wrong, I at least can testify that I’m right about that.