Pageants : Dark Before Blonde Dawn
Many bands that strive for the unique and original end up sounding cliché or contrived. Pageants effortlessly contradict this rule – their debut full-length album explores fresh musical territory without breaking a sweat.
Dark Before Blonde Dawn conjures dreams of oversized fruity cocktails and sandy shores, appropriately blurred through drunken goggles. Catchy guitar licks slide lazily over crisp rhythms (primarily held by a damn smooth sounding ride cymbal), and are complimented by subtle layers of bongo drums, keyboard pads and vocal harmonies. It’s a thick and surprisingly complex sound, but never overbearingly so, and is uplifting while balanced by dark undertones.
In terms of genre, the album could be loosely described as tropical-indie-pop, but such clumsy categories don’t accurately capture the essence or variety of Pageant’s sound. While some tracks have a fairly direct pop angle and others pull toward a driven garage-rock vibe, everything fits within a well-scoped audio aesthetic. The recording has a lo-fi feel, but has been mixed and mastered to feel smooth and flowing.
The lyrical content of Dark Before Blonde Dawn takes the form of detached storytelling, filled with such perfectly understated phrases as "an air-conditioned nightmare at home", and "I thought you’d understand but I misunderstood." Lyricist Ben Pell’s words hold their own distinct sense of prose and shift smoothly from line to line. His vocal delivery is rhythmic and his melodies appropriately casual, drifting to various crescendos before coolly fading out.
Pageants have created something unique and are comfortable in their sound. This is definitely a summer album that offers more than simple pop tunes – it’s happy in pastel-scale, driven, raw and memorable in both lyric and melody.
BY JEREMY MILLAR
Best Track: Relaxation
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: PEDRO THE LION, THE WEAKERTHANS
In A Word: Serene