ARTIST Pacific Air
ALBUM Stop Talking
LABEL Universal Republic
RELEASE DATE 11.6.2013
7.4 | 10
Siblings Ryan and Taylor Lawhon started recording music as KO KO in 2012, gaining notoriety off the heels of their breezy summer jam “Float.” But things change quickly, and by the end of their first year recording music as a duo, KO KO became Pacific Air, releasing the poppy Long Live KO KO EP in October 2012. The four song EP made it clear that Pacific Air weren’t hiding their interests in being labeled as a pop band, with the music being unabashedly rooted in catchy, three minute bursts of euphoric energy. As is the case in most pop records, the duo’s goals as a band somewhat restrain them from creating a record that can be anything other than lovely, handcrafted wallpaper.
Enlisting producer Chris Zane (Passion Pit, The Walkmen) to help flesh out the band’s sound, it’s evident just how highly they regard the music of those bands, especially Passion Pit, without even knowing who produced their record. As noted in my review of their current single “Move,” the song bounces with the same type of energy as their Boston based peers. But what really makes a band like Passion Pit so endearing to so many is how Michael Angelekos is able to mask his rather bleak and confrontational lyrics with infectious electronics, allowing the music to stand out both lyrically and sonically. As for Pacific Air, their lyrics are devoid of any real humanity, mostly appearing as songs that need lyrics to accompany the music.
It’s also rather disheartening that the best moments on the disc were either given placement in their KO KO EP or were released as singles in between their two releases. Because of that, the album gives off the same feeling as seeing a movie wherein all the best moments are revealed throughout the trailers leading up to the premiere. Despite all of that, tracks such as “Float,” “Roses,” and “Move” are better than the majority of pop music pumped out from the major labels. And “Intermission,” a head scratching inclusion on a four song EP, fits much better in the realm of a full length album.
After the inevitable mid-album stretch of largely forgettable tunes, the guys end the album with the promising “Duet In B Minor,” which ends in a way that recalls the guitar-based work of Real Estate and The Walkmen, and “Classic Soul.” The latter’s blend of guitars and piano shows the heights that they can take their pop sound, while also exacerbating the divide between the best and worst moments of Stop Talking. So while the album does have it’s fair share of holes, which is inevitable in many debut LPs, the Lawhon brothers prove that they have what it takes to branch out from purely internet hype into a band capable of attracting large audiences throughout the festival circuit. They’ve gained our attention. Now let’s see what they have in store for act two.