Review: Pillow Talk, ‘What We Should Have Said’
Fresh off a tour with Keep and stints with The World Is, Citizen, and Polar Bear Club, this band has encountered a ton throughout their infancy. Enveloped in walls of sound contrasting with ambient choruses and devilishly memorable hooks, ‘What We Should Have Said,’ is the result of finally sitting down and taking stock of their lives after an insane touring year. They survived a freaking tornado, and now Pillow Talk is on Animal Style, back with EP number two. As a band name, their moniker is highly reminiscent of Pity Sex; in fact, almost too close (my iTunes artist list has them back to back). Perhaps the two have met before.. or should tour as the collective unit: Pity Pillow Sex Talk. Talk about a shoegaze powerhouse.
The entire extended play is drowning and seeping with reverb – clearly the favorite of the pedals on the board (and mine as well). This technique bodes well for their brand of emotionally influenced emo-pop, with shimmers of shoegaze and an affection for melodic guitar tones. It creates a sound that is immediately enjoyable and effortless to listen to, despite the clear notion to serious and even sad lyrical topics. The guitars soar and twinkle into the airwaves along each track with varying amounts of foot-twisting pedal-work, accompanied by intricate bass lines and a sweet monotone vocal delivery. That’s not to say the vocals are bad, but they could be improved on for the purpose of keeping things interesting. With so many effects going on, it’s a shame that the mix wasn’t too generous in the drums department, but they’re present enough to keep everything layered on top intact.
I had literally no exposure to Pillow Talk until my first impressions of “Heaven Sent” and “Room”, and jeeze, are they an amazing introduction to a brand new band for me. After I glanced at my review assignments for the week, I naturally took to Bandcamp for any help and found solace in two beautifully crafted songs. I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the guitar riff of “Heaven Sent” nor could I resist singing along to the chorus of “Room.” These two little details had such a profound effect on my casual listen, leading to a genuine anticipation shortly after. Once I was finally granted access to a full listen, this manifested in two drastically different ways: 1) luck, as there was another layer of musicianship buried deep underneath the choral overtones and sound and 2) feeling bittersweet, as the remaining tracks had difficulty meeting my expectations.
Out of the five tracks, “Escape Me” is the clear stand-out, towering over the others in both length and ability to grasp the listener in for a worthwhile ending. It’s a interesting way to close off the EP, as it fades in and out of consciousness after the 2-minute mark to a sullen quietus after 6 minutes. With the exception of the awkward transition from “Bend” to “Make You Real,” each track flows immediately from the former, creating a tonal synchronicity. Normally I am a huge fan of this, as it cohesively links an album together, but with so few tracks, ‘What We Should Have Said’ might have benefited more from songs being isolated, almost garnering their own entity. While there is just the right amount of variance here, I’m still wishing and left wanting more. Perhaps taking the liberty to devote 1/5th of the EP to an instrumental wasn’t the correct decision, even if it did sound pretty damn cool.
Pillow Talk have constructed a worthy second EP that shows signs of true progression in both songwriting capability and band maturity. Almost dying in a tornado will do that to you. And after some quality time spent writing and recording, it’s shown in spades on ‘What We Should Have Said.’ The latter half more than makes up for a lackluster intro and ends in a way begging for continuation and further growth. Once you’ve racked up some meaningful miles (read: making it to each show you book) on the van, all a band needs is to find their sweet spot in composing, and they’re reallllly close to it. I’m betting we’ll hear from Pillow Talk soon, hopefully with a full length in 2016. You heard it here first. 4/5
RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, new Title Fight, Pity Sex
Definitely check out: Escape Me, Heaven Sent
Shameless plug of lesser-known bands who sound similar: Cloakroom
Pillow Talk is a five-piece emo/shoegaze band from Memphis, TN who have been described as the emo ‘Real Estate’ (note: I don’t mean SDRE, just for clarification). You can check them out on their facebook and twitter. No tour dates have been announced yet, but we’ll keep you updated!