Rose Blake, Mike Isaacs and Scott Maynard are the three musicians that make up Pales, a group from New Zealand that recently released their full-length entitled It’s Cold Outside. This a sparse but sophisticated album that has some more than impressive vocal work as well as guitar playing. They kind of sound like a stripped down version of Grizzly Bear because of the vocal harmonies and vocal delivery as well as the off-the-cuff guitar progressions. Some people have described Grizzly Bear as baroque pop. If that’s the case I will go out on a limb here and call Pales baroque folk. Besides guitar and vocals they skillfully throw in other instrumentation that never takes away from the core elements. It’s strategically placed and adds extra subtleties that go a long way.
The album starts out off with “Right St.” which was an excellent way to begin the album. It immediately focuses on their biggest strengths, which are the vocals and guitar work. The song delivers original and inspired songwriting. You won't find any clichés here but what you will find are field recordings of waves, wind and other odds and ends that create a fantastic concoction of sound that melds into the guitar and vocals. The song ends with serene vocal harmonies and at this point had me very intrigued as to what the rest of the album would sound like.
The second song “Broken Homes” was even better than the first song. Pales hit the sweet spot after the two-minute mark making not only an original surge of sounds from incredibly typical instrumentation but also created an infectious melody that only furthers my appreciation for the group. The other thing they have in common with Grizzly Bear is that the music is accessible while relying on rhythms and progression that people might not associate with pop.
As the album progresses it continues to churn out undeniable talent. “Low” introduces a delightful banjo and well as melancholy while “It’s Cold Outside (Part II)” implements loosely put together guitar fragments that are downright intoxicating yet chaotic.
I don't have anything to criticize about this album. It was exceptional from beginning to start and I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did.
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