Life and its repeating patterns lie at the heart of Pastel Motel’s new EP Confection. A cyclical concept album, the tracks touch on a range of subjects that are infused into our daily lives, while leaving enough ambiguity to allow listeners to draw their own understanding of the lyrics. Four years in the making, the EP takes the drama surrounding its creation and turns it into tracks that shine with the band’s rock style.
Over the 4 years since the band started the album, there have been multiple line-up changes, swapping of instruments, an album completely lost to a power failure and a pandemic. The unpredictability of life is fused to the patterns of the tracks that make this EP a pleasure to listen to again and again. Eric Deleon (bass, synths), Ricky Maxey (guitar, vocals) and Ryan Maxey (drums, vocals) bring something new to each listen of the EP.
The EP opens with ‘Astronomer’ and its easy jangle of guitars. The opening tones of the track have you bopping and tapping your toes to the movement. The drop of sound before the vocals lightly dance into the soundscape is a great way to draw your attention to the lyrics. There is a feeling of wonder in the vocals as they have you thinking about the sky and space in a completely different way. The stop-start threaded through the melody is a perfect sonic device that leads you to the gentle cosmic burst of colours in the chorus. While there is a sense of wonder about the natural world, the band has delicately woven another layer of meaning into the lyrics that are just waiting for you to pick it out.
‘Webs’ has a more grounded feeling to the opening guitar line that thrums up your spine. The higher guitar line that follows adds a wonderful melodic flow over the twang of the low levels. The vocals have a feeling of thoughts flowing through your brain as you consider the relationships we have with others. While this track is not as soft as the opening one, there is a breezy feeling to it that seems to fill your chest with helium. As the single progresses, there is a rise in the movement of the melody that is matched by the vocals as they crest a wave. This leads you into a rather dynamic movement that swirls around you with perfect layers of sound.
A melancholic flair comes through in the opening of ‘Waves’. This is picked up by the vocals as they seem to bring a rainy day to the single. There is a steady forward movement to the melody, like the endless patter of rain falling on asphalt. Marching over this, the main vocal line is a weary walk through the rain that leaves you soaked to the bone. Through the sheets of rain, the second vocal layer calls out, beckoning you further into the single. There is a groovier vibe that enters later in the track that really gets you moving to the rhythm, before the wash of opening comes back. The movement of the melody creates waves that rise and fall throughout the track, with the vocals riding over the top.
‘Grip’ uses the guitar-driven opening to grab your attention before a deep bass plucks against your back. The vocals have a hypnotic vibe to them as they sink their hooks into your senses. There is a wonderful interplay between the vocals and melody that has you swaying and sinking into the single. The vocals settle on your shoulders with a delicate touch that is strong enough to turn your attention to the deeper meaning of the lyrics. It is a great display of addictive guitar lines meeting light vocals that leave you wanting more. The give and take between the vocals and melody make the message of the lyrics more powerful.
The drums and deep thrum of the guitars that open ‘Launch’ instantly have your feet tapping and your head bopping to the rhythm. The almost twilight touch of the melody is tempered by the haziness of the vocals as they float above the music. While there is a really chilled vibe to this track, the lyrics carry a heavier message that really leaves you thinking. There is a rather nihilist feeling to the lyrics at times, but this transforms with the push of the melody into a sense of freedom that comes with shedding your worries. Through all of this, the groove of the melody keeps you bopping away to its rhythm.
The EP comes to a close with the light acoustic guitar notes of ‘Timelapse’. Through the opening movement of the guitar, you are drawn into a floating sense that is undermined by the vibrating drone that slowly rises from the depths. The vocals add to the floating touch, making you want to close your eyes and soak up what they have to say. This is a delightful interplay of sounds that add a poignancy to the single and the sense that something is coming. This something is the swing of sound that happens later with the darker low tones gaining momentum and pushing you forward. Over all of this, the vocals continue to float across your brain.
Pastel Motel draws you into the cyclical patterns of life, while leaving you with a lot to think about through the tracks of Confection. Each track has a unique feeling but carries the depths of meaning that characterises the EP. With each subsequent listen to the track, the band brings something new to the fore and has you thinking about things all over again.