On new full-length Flowerland, Pearl & the Oysters, the LA-based, French-American duo of Joachim Polack and Juliette Davis, make red-wine bedroom pop music that could soundtrack a space opera. Yes. We do mean Brazilian R&B influences, retro accents, and sunkissed tropicalia essence. Being pushed by a deep thump, circa thrift-store drum machines from peak-era There’s A Riot Goin On Sly Stone experiments. Whew. That’s a lot.
But when lined up, as on the opener “Soft Science,” this one-two combo of dreamscape feel-groovy pastel shades—wait are we on ‘shrooms—with matched vocal repartee by Polack and Davis, is one of most dead-on interpretations of escapist, post hippy soft pop. And that too is complex.
Samba percussion, fender Rhodes moods, it’s a romantic color wheel that continues spinning out Stereolab meets Brijean patina. You covet these splashes.
Themes of grieving about the effect climate change has wrought on earth (timely) and spinning yarns about kooky figures, depression, and the strain of finishing grad school: These narratives get front-and-center discussion. But the project is about hope, not despair.
When the lyrics border on “harshing my mellow,” the vibe—by way of woodwinds through a delay, and synths pushed to whirlybird atmospherics—fluctuates between warmhearted and galactic, emphasizing the joy through pictorial arrangements.
“Treasure Island,” a woozy melodic poolside narcotic, comes equipped with all the trappings of great pop. Through adventuresome verse, chorus, and bridge… the aquatic veneer remains unhurried. But still vivid.
Matter of fact this entire album subscribes to its own self-imposed time zone. “Flowerland,” the centerpiece, moves with quirky changes, downward-facing dog-jazzy plinkings, low-slung plush. Technical wiz Shags Chamberlain, who mixed both Drugdealer albums and Mac Demarco’s latest projects, keeps things nostalgic, like their visuals.
“Osteoid Asteroid,” the closest nod here to Daft Punk or Air, fitted-up with planetary vocoder sing-speak, catch Pearl & the Oysters’ twisted-melting colors impressively. It’s a unique ride through astrological Nebula-based themes, packing enchantment not mere pastiche.
FLOWERLAND by Pearl & the Oysters is available here.