Strenuous vocal bellows constant the album, sometimes with the kind of hard-hitting alternative rock flare we’ve become accustomed to, and somebody with a strange, Daft Punk robotic influence on tracks like ‘Sorry in My Mind’, ‘Daffodils’ and closer ‘Quiet Love’. The opening track ‘Monogamy’ is perhaps the best example of the band playing to the norms of the genre, which might actually be their strong-suit, as the sometimes distorted, sometimes electronic vocals don’t always fit well with the standard guitar/bass/drums instrumentation, though it is at least an ambitious attempt at trying something different.
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The overall sound of the album frequents the aforementioned garage rock vibe, but a few layers are added throughout, sometimes with exquisite use of pedals, sometimes with a little more synthesizer and keyboards. This is sometimes interesting, especially on the track ‘Ferris & Effie’, but for the most part, the band don’t really do anything that hasn’t been done before, and the compositional efforts don’t necessarily allow the band to captivate in that department either.
There is at least a half-decent attempt at nuance and progression on ‘This Is All Pretend’, but that’s it, it’s admirable at best. The times where the band go full-throated with their ambitions, for example ‘Go Where U Want 2’, are a little blurry and dissonant – and the when they do the opposite, their music just comes across as super conventional, almost conservative. The album also seems to lack its own identity, and Pillow Talk don’t come across as a band that knows exactly what it is they want to be, but maybe when they do figure that one out, they’ll make better music, something with more direction.
‘This Is All Pretend’ is a straight forward listen, sometimes well-polished, sometimes a little grubby, but easy nonetheless. Its lack of cutting edge and memorability is its true downfall, but maybe we shouldn’t count Pillow Talk out just yet.
‘This Is All Pretend’ is out now via Animal Style.