You could make a good argument for the fact that whilst guitar music seems to have undergone constant evolution, been pushed and pulled in all directions and warped and twisted into new forms, in the name of contemporary music, the piano has undergone a less exploratory journey. Yes, we have a raft of bands using keyboard-like technology, but those are generally more about accessing samples rather than full ten-fingered approach to the instrument. That is why Pacifico is such a stand out record.
At the heart of many of the songs, such as Saturnalia and Robyn on the Couch is a plaintive piano, the chiming neo-classical and classic sound, timeless, chilled and soulful. At the other extreme songs like Midnight in Echo head into more driven, sassy pop-rock territory, but it is what happens between these two sonic boundaries which I find most intriguing.
Tortoiseshell Sky pulses and broods in a collision of ultra-slow hip-hop grooves and affected keyboard treatments, emotive and drifting like the play out song to a film about love, loss and longing. Similarly Oh, Starry Night is a mesh of textures rather than solid structure, layered electronica and strange keyboard washes.
It’s great to come across an album which is beholden to neither guitar riff nor borrowed sample, that takes the keyboard approach of a previous age and uses it to create songs which are very much of modern times but generously tip their hat and acknowledge previous eras and styles. Knowing where you are going musically is very important, but you can only plot a course once you know where you come from. This is an album that has its route planned to perfection.