Fresh off their solidly rad tape for Crash Symbols, Imbue Up, Pressed And, the duo of Andrew Hamlet and Mat Jones, are ready for action. Maybe not the kind of cartoony action associated with fast-moving Saturday morning Japanese cartoons (although, let’s be frank, the word “cartoon” is not out of place in this review), even though there is a song here called “Komusō Flutter Kick IV,” but action in the sense that, yes son, Pressed And is blowing up. They’ve got a Daytrotter sesh under their belt, OK? That’s currency. And Hyper Thistle is out on Mush Records, home to luminaries. Gaze at their roster. Now drool.
Wouldn’t matter in the slightest, would it, the press, the proximity, if there was nothing to back it up? That’s what I said, and I believe it to this day. Oh, Pressed And? They have nothing to worry about. They’ve got bitchin’ tunes. In fact, I’ve listened to Hyper Thistle over and over several times, and it’s virtually impossible to tire of. I guess if I listened to it ad infinitum I’d probably go mad, but that will never happen and I’m able to simply enjoy it. (It better not happen, I want to listen to LMFAO on the way to the grocery store.) (That was a joke.) (No it wasn’t.)
Hamlet and Jones carry the chillwave torch with their output, and that’s certainly not a bad thing (although there’s some press out there that calls them “post-chillwave,” and that’s just unnecessary). But the tone is warm instead of frigid, and the vibe inviting and cordial. There are even guitars! Honest to god guitars in chillwave! Who’da thought. “Tusk in the Rock Flowers” opens the EP with slightly distorted and deliberate strums, accompanied by what can only be an approximation of an old Casio beat (unless of course they actually souped up a Casio). My favorite was always “Bossa Nova,” but this one is sped up to pretty much the highest BPM setting a Casio could handle. Which is really the reason why I think it sounds like a Casio. Sorry to beleaguer that point, but it brings back memories – warm, fuzzy memories of basement recording for the sake of recording.
Pressed And’s calling card on this release is the chopped and processed vocal samples taking center stage throughout, mostly wordless tidbits that flit about the key in delirious melodies. And though this is why I think the cartoonish aspect is a bit apt (the higher registers almost hit chipmunk territory, and the lower and mid-ranges come off at times like The Fifth Element’s Diva Plavalaguna), the voices retain enough grounding in a human throat that they merge perfectly with the music. That’s the trick here, and it sort of comes off like an exercise in oxymoronic contrast: warm chillwave? Human cartoonishness? And the kicker, grave dance music? That’s it though, as my favorite songs here – “Andross to Aneki” and closer “Sudden Ground” – function as serious entries into an otherwise playful dynamic, and they’re all the better for it. The composition meets style halfway, and the result is some of the smartest bedroom pop/anti-dance music you’ll likely hear this year.
RIYL: Pariah Carey, James Blake, D’eon, Bibio