ARTIST: Pastel Coast
RELEASE: Sense EP
RELEASE DATE: 17th October 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Plain and simple, straight and true, Sense by the French based dream-pop project Pastel Coast is a neat and enthralling 5/5 EP. When I saw the projects genre to be that of dream-pop, I sighed and wondered whether this would be any different; different to the mass amounts of the genre that are poured out into the public sphere from musicians who think they are truly unique in some various way. Is it different? I’m not sure. Because I started to think as I listened to it; what makes dream-pop good? What makes it an enjoyable and a favourable listening experience? The answer, I started to think, is that if it evokes some sort of emotional response; some kind of ‘connection’ (if you want to get fancy) then it must be of better quality than others. And while I feel that Sense is definitely an original EP, filled with unique and refreshing songs and music, I believe it to be the nostalgic, propounded elements of Pastel Coast’s musical and lyrical content that truly makes it a step above the others.
Sense opens with the ideal characteristic sound of the whole EP; the hush roll of waves on a shoreline and the gentle plucking of dream pop tone guitars. This song, ‘Nightfire’, showcases the projects musical landscape and favourite tools for creating soothing, relaxing and dreamy pop music. ‘Nightfire’ centres itself silently around the gentle beat of a drum machine at the back of the mix. Guitars sound light and fluffy; perhaps like the clouds that Pastel Coast are trying to emulate through their music. The sound is drenched in reverb enough so that the vocals and the instruments mix together without being totally audible all the time; which fits well in the music. Altogether I feel the song sounds synthetic; but synthetic in almost a genius way… As though these characteristics do nothing but good for the music. What follows, however, is the best track on the EP. ‘Lifes’ sees Pastel Coast use a more shoegaze texture; they connect this back with the ingredients used at the start of the EP; such as drum machines, heavy reverb, distant but entrancing vocals and simple yet appropriate bass lines. The project also add another gem into the mix; as ‘Lifes’ is where the vocals truly shine. The mesmerizingly beautiful chorus sees the vocals reach high to accompany the guitars in a truly brilliant passage of music. This tight mixture of sound also sees Pastel Coast at their most proffer as the music begins to reek (in a good way) of nostalgia.
‘Synthetic Love’ follows with its lengthy and more pronounced musical structure. The song opens with clear vocals, a steady drum beat and some basic backing instrumentation. It develops, however, over the course of the song, to include a neat synth and heavy, pounding drum machine passage of music. The track reaches its artistic heights with a winding, disco like breakdown in the middle of the song; after which the band slowly plaster things back into one cohesive image at the end of the song. Another truly beautiful and genuinely fantastic song is the aptly titled ‘Don’t Gaze Your Shoes’. By far the most shoegaze Pastel Coast ever broach on Sense, the song appears and projects itself in a much heavier way than others with reverb drenched guitars, more elusive vocals and a slower tempo that could be likened more to gazing at ones shoes than dream pop-ing. The song almost acts as the musical representation of swimming as it soothes; gentle, yet always deep and more often than not layered sounds paddle over the top of others.
Literally everything about Sense EP connects with what I referred to as ‘nostalgia’ in the aforementioned paragraphs. The artist image on the Internet is a colourful photo of somebody walking in the ocean with their guitar; the sky is blue, the water is dark and the whole picture looks like some sort of beautiful oil painting. The EP cover art displays a neatly blended colour pattern, light and full of colours associated with the beach, the ocean and I suppose… The coast? Even the band’s name links in with this dream pop nostalgia beauty, aesthetic. Of course, however, it is the music that links everything together tightly; presenting Sense EP in a neat, good-looking package. The production is almost bordering on lo-fi, which one generally does not associate with shoegaze or dream pop. However the project somehow push this very lo-fi like production quality to the front which somehow adds another gentle element to the mixing on the album. Reverb is heavy, as are the echoed programmed drums and the undercurrent of shoegaze like synths and soundscapes. Thankfully, again, the band use this to their advantage.
The beauty of this EP is immense. So much so at some points I felt like I was listening to Sense while standing on a cove or beach somewhere, ankle deep in the dark sand. And ultimately I feel like that’s why you should listen to this EP; it is a creature of mesmerizing brilliance and attraction, all the while being something you feel has walked you back through the past and placed you somewhere under the sun. Pastel Coast present this image and connect it together through the avenues of production, performance and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.