PEARL & THE OYSTERS
Share video for ‘Soft Science (feat. Kuo)’
New album Flowerland due September 3rd via Feeltrip Records and Tip Top Recordings
Pearl & The Oysters, the space age pop duo of Joachim Polack and Juliette Davis, have today shared the video for ‘Soft Science (feat. Kuo)‘, the latest single taken from their new album Flowerland, due 3rd September via Feeltrip Records (N. America) and Tip Top Recordings (ROW).
In this semi-autobiographical chorus-less duet, grad school anxiety materializes into an argument between lovers, the premise of which was inspired by nouvelle vague tropes surrounding domestic ennui.
“X wants to go to the beach” says Juliette, “but Y is hesitant because they aren’t done reading and “soft science is hard” (silly we).”
Co-lead vocals on the track and in the kaleidoscopic video are provided by Kuo-Hung Tseng—singer and mastermind behind Taiwanese jazz-pop band Sunset Rollercoaster—making it the very first Pearl & The Oysters song to feature a guest on lead vocals.
Firstly, the new release starts with this sultry sweeping formation of bright textures that initiate the ensemble, the complex layers hook the audience then the energy simply explodes. As the beat drops in, the audience embraces the movement and the fierce tempo, the beat, and percussive features join this experimental playful passage. The dual vocals emerge with this ethereal influence, showcasing this dramatic call and response motion, oozing charm and character. As the release progresses, various vibrant tones and tweaks join the vibrant atmosphere and the creation simply bursts with this momentous surge of soul. A truly vivid and marvellous arrangement with this upbeat energy and
The pair met at high school in Paris and bonded over their mutual love for such seemingly unrelated acts as Burt Bacharach, the Pixies,Chico Buarque, or the Zombies. While studying musicology at the Sorbonne and attending jazz school, they began working on a sound that was equally influenced by space age pop of the ’50s (as well as its revival in the ’90s by bands like Stereolab), and the inspired simplicity of Love You-era Beach Boys.
With the band having recently relocated to LA, Flowerland was intended as the final installment of Pearl & The Oysters’ ‘Florida trilogy,’ begun on their self-titled debut (2017) and continued on Canned Music (2018), a space age odyssey equal parts fawning over the Floweredland’s natural spectacles and mourning the peril that climate change has wrought on it all.
In comparison with previous releases, Flowerland reveals more of the inner workings of Davis and Polack’s minds, with the pair trading fantastical stories about zany characters for more personal narratives detailing worries of the everyday and universal variety. While the music remains primarily indebted to the escapist optimism of late-1960s soft pop, cloudier themes such as eco-anxiety, depression, and the stresses of finishing graduate school are all explored (somewhat cryptically) in the lyrics, although never in an overwhelming way. For Davis and Polack, Flowerland was meant as an attempt to channel crippling emotions into an uplifting listen, rather than a deliberately heavy experience.
P&TO’s take on Richard Tee and Stuff’s mellowest moments, the title track is in keeping with the band’s extended space opera metaphor seeing Florida become a foreign planet on which Davis and Polack crashed—rather than safely landed—, an unexpected but ultimately lucky detour. In the admittedly semi-autobiographical opener ‘Soft Science’, the band tries their hand at nouvelle vague romantic candor, in a duet staging a lovers’ trivial but tender argument, backed by samba-inspired percussion and phasing electric piano swirls. ‘Evening Sun‘, one of P&TO’s more affected and pessimistic tracks to date, turns the ‘Endless Summer’ trope on its head by contemplating the concerning proposition hidden (in plain sight) behind what was once as a catchy slogan for tourism: when is the paradisiac promise of an eternal Summer actually becoming a dystopian menace? With its reverb-drenched flutes and whirling analog synthesizers, it is without doubt the album’s most cinematic cut.
Complete with a cover of Caetano Veloso’s tropicalia anthem ‘Baby‘ and the use of dusty drum machines conjuring Sly Stone or Shuggie Otis’s early-1970s output, Flowerland bears a heavier leaning toward Brazilian and R&B influences than the band’s earlier work. However, their signature take on space age music—bright melodies, retro-futuristic electronic accents and Davis’s rich vocals—remains intact.
“We really love the idea of combining vintage electronic sounds with nature, à la Hosono, and finding a bridge between those worlds”, says Davis. “This is present in all of our albums.”
Like with any P&TO release, friends and collaborators from across the globe left a sonic footprint on the songs of Flowerland. The album was mixed in the hands of Shags Chamberlain, responsible for mixing both Drugdealer albums and Mac Demarco’s latest pair of releases. Musicians contributing guest appearances to Flowerland include fellow Angelino Dent May, sitarist Ami Dang, Kuo-Hung Tseng from Sunset Rollercoaster 落日飛車, Jules Crommelin of Berlin-by-way-of-Australia’s Parcels, Dutch multi-instrumentalist Fay Lovsky, as well as the brothers of Florida-based Edmondson, who beefed up the record’s percussion.
While Davis and Polack are quick to preface themselves by specifying that this third album was never intended as a magic elixir for covid times (it was in fact finished before the pandemic began), Flowerland should leave listeners feeling as fresh as morning dew, armed to tackle the surprises 2021 may bring with P&TO’s sunlit melodies and thoughtful lyrics echoing in their minds.
1. Soft Science (feat. Kuo)
2. Bit Valley
3. Treasure Island
4. Radiant Radish
8. Evening Sun
9. Baby (Caetano Veloso cover)
11. Ostreoid Asteroid
13. Rocket Show
14. Flamingo Sketches