Pillar Point is the super synthy new project of Scott Reitherman, who’s thus far been primarily known as the mastermind behind indie darlings Throw Me the Statue. At first listen, Pillar Point sounds decidedly more pop than that project, but that’s slightly deceiving because, wrapped up in all of that glorious synth, is a considerable amount of gloom and doom. In fact, I would have to say that Pillar Point is considerably more melancholic than Throw Me the Statue. Which isn’t a bad thing. After all, it’s not every day you listen to something that immediately sounds bright and shiny but is actually rather dark in terms of lyrical content. To that end, I found the contrast between the music and lyrics here refreshing. Reitherman and his longtime producer Charlie Smith could have easily used shadowy and dreary sounding synthesizers to compliment the subject matter on hand, but instead they opted to use synths that generally sound like the antithesis of what you’d expect to accompany the lyrics here. As for the melodies, they tend to fall somewhere in the middle. If you’re not paying attention to the lyrics, then the melodies might sound uplifting. But if you focus on the lyrics then suddenly those same melodies sound downtrodden. It’s brilliant, really.
“Writing darker songs with dance elements helped me to process the confusion and change I was experiencing in my own life because within the confines of a pop song I could control little moments of clarity and redemption,” Reitherman explains. “And for the listener it adds depth to what might otherwise be just dance music.”
“Oh, the list goes all the way down / And there’s no control / And we’re all just faces in the mist / Got a friendship close,” Reitherman sings during the rather poetic tune that is “Eyeballs,” a song about the evils of social networks, how they’re meant to bring us closer together yet often lead to feelings of isolation. It’s the type of thing you’d expect on a creepy-sounding Nine Inch Nails or Depeche Mode record. But if you heard an instrumental version of this track you just might describe it as carefree if not happy-go-lucky.
The bleakest song on the album is probably “Black Hole,” which mixes shiny flourishes of synth with throbbing bass and snappy beats. It certainly doesn’t sound happy-go-lucky, but it does give off a fun vibe. Until you heed the lyrics. “Baby’s got a black hole between the eyes,” he sings. “And for a little I can’t tell she’s crying / But we take this road / We pay the price.”
In spite of its pretty title, the ridiculously catchy, breakbeat-style tune “Cherry” is actually about the feelings of apathy that today’s young people tend to feel when it comes to deciding what to do with their lives. “Not gonna work, I couldn’t tonight / The whole city’s at the lake and we’re doing it right,” he sings. It’s not quite a manifesto, but it’s the words of a young person who’s content to just hang out.
Those feelings of shell-shock are further explored in “Echoes,” the album’s closing track. “It’s proof that you’re running from, he sings. “Hiding in the shade from a blinding sun.” It’s the closest thing on hand to his work with Throw Me the Statue and the one tune on the record that actually sounds wholly dark. Just in case you weren’t paying attention to the lyrics of the eight songs that precede it.