ALBUM REVIEW: Pillar Point ‘Pillar Point’ (this article first appeared on www.gigslutz.co.uk)

Rosie James picBy Rosie James

Anyone familiar with Scott Reitherman’s previous band, indie outfit Throw Me The Statue, will be aware of his knack for crafting songs that stick in the mind. While the Seattle-based, Bay Area native explores a new sonic terrain with the debut album from his new project, Pillar Point, his uncanny way with a pop tune remains intact.

Nothing says “Stop pigeonholing me as an indie fop, idiots!” like a good, hard synth stab, and the first few seconds of album opener “Diamond Mine” are some statement of intent. This derring-do is backed up by a choppily structured yet insistently engaging song that seems designed to let us know we are in for an interesting ride. “Eyeballs” follows, buoyant and driving, like a jet-ski ploughing the surface of the ocean; the track bursts with joyful abandon, while Reitherman’s vocals immediately call to mind the gentle yet insistent sincerity of Hot Chip. In fact, there are many moments where one could be mistaken for thinking they were listening to the aforementioned London act; they just keep popping into the picture, and they are not alone – “Cherry” comes over like a tag-team of Hot Chip and Neon Neon, but it is difficult to look down on it for that, partly because of those two acts’ own overt homage to their heroes, but mainly because it is such a downright enjoyable song, inventive in its own ways.

Pillar Point 1

Scott Reitherman

There is something about these songs that makes them grow more addictive with each listen – on first hearing, the crystal immediacy of the melodic hooks is offset by frequent curveballs in the song structures. Rather than being off-putting, by not quite making sense on first listen, it becomes imperative to give it another spin; and when everything does slot into place, it is worth it.

The loping pace of “Strangers In Paradise”, intermittently pitching down and dipping into a murky dubstep track, brings another twist; but in case anyone was beginning to get caught up in the UK electronic influences, the laid-back cruise of “Dreamin’” is West Coast to the most. On “Curious Of You”, an obviously intentional nod to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” emerges after a verse that recalls – to my mind, anyway – the melody from Neil Young’s “After The Goldrush”, before the whole lot is carried away on a deliciously spangly synth outro which appears to recreate for our times the opening of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”. Again, it is hard to know if these are conscious references, but it it is a damn likeable song regardless. The new romanticism of “Echoes” follows alluringly, and ends suddenly, leaving the album hanging, in the best possible way.

This disco-flecked, hedonistic dance backdrop seems to embrace Reitherman’s lightness of vocal timbre as a perfectly symbiotic part of the musical landscape, within which he then explores darker, more personal themes. Following a slight decline in adulation over the course of his two Throw Me The Statue longplayers, it does seem that he has recaptured the ‘first album’ feel here; that playful, unfettered creativity which comes from casting off the shackles of success – or, at least, distancing oneself from them.

Straddling the worlds of indie/rock and dance is nothing new, but some people genre-hop naturally, as a matter of artistic development, reflecting the many musical strands in their DNA, whereas some tediously attempt to pilfer some credibility by adding a few samples and hi-hats to a chirpy indie pop number. Thankfully, the immersive sound coined here by Reitherman on this fun and multi-layered LP, drops him firmly in the first category.

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