Remember the band with the paper mache doll mascot? Well, Pastel Dynasty is back with a new album, Parental Advisory, that isn’t quite child’s play.
According to Pastel Dynasty, they were “in a rapid progressive state of experimentalism balanced with key uses of dynamic inference when writing this album,” resulting in a listening experience that pushes the boundaries for fans, opening a forum for discussion. Besides experimenting with samples and sound, Pastel Dynasty also aimed to make songs with meanings that are up for interpretation.
“-Glass Breaks-” is the first track of the album, and its lyrics set a very poetic tone for the songs to come. Backed by experimental, aggressive instrumentals and delivered with complementary phrasing, the lyrics emote freely: “I sent you off with a whisper / Into depths unknown / Ramblings of a blind man / Lost and all alone / No one, no one can see / The wicked things you have done / Come and show me a mirror / And the things I see / And what they mean / Will chill me to the bone.” The flowing rhythms created by the track’s diction and syntax work well with the instrumentals’ aesthetics and intensity, creating a strong start for Parental Advisory.
The instrumental intro to “Now You’re Feelin’ on Me” has a frantic, ragged edge. Echoed by its chaotic, half-rhyming vocal cadence (“Fuses / Bursting / Dying / Waking / Walking / Flying / Burning / Frying / There’s no dreaming / Where you’re falling / Here for Cleaning / Cause’ it’s my calling”), the track’s instrumentals definitely generate a feeling of feverish energy that drive the track through its 3:55 running time at the speed of sound, never quite letting up. Still, there are shifts within its energy, ensuring there’s always depth and movement within every measure.
“Falling Outta Place in2 Outta Space” has a very outer-space aesthetic that suits its title. Very experimental in its beats and almost spoken-word in its lyrical delivery, the track definitely isn’t my favorite. For me, its aggressiveness is a bit too much, but for fans of Pastel Dynasty’s more exploratory-styled songs, it will be a favorite. Although a lot of it doesn’t suit my personal taste, the bassline that is highlighted intermittently throughout the track does shine a light on the facets of Pastel Dynasty’s music that I tend to gravitate to more.
“I Did It” continues the experimental influences that are smattered through Pastel Dynasty’s latest album. Heavy-hitting spoken vocals emphasize the track’s chugging rhythm and empty spaces, while varied electronic rhythms flow around each vocal note. One of the longest tracks with a 5:09 running time, “I Did It” ensures that it keeps listeners’ interest with its diversified attitudes and aesthetics.
“Samael” brings more of Pastel Dynasty’s instrumental-based, rock influences to the forefront, which I am always a fan of. Mottled guitar tones and spacey, light vocals introduce the track, mirroring the dreamy-yet-dark aesthetic of the lyrics: “Pirouette inside a silhouette / I will find you, yet I feel so far away / Coldly I wander every hall you’ve ever walked in me / In this poison / Dripping from an angel’s wings; this poison / Samael is waiting for you here again / With open arms and eyes to take your innocence from you.” Out of all the tracks on Parental Advisory, “Samael” is the one that I could see myself listening to the most on my own time.
“Fake Apes” will definitely be controversial thanks to some of the expletives used in its lyrics. While I am generally accepting of a well-placed curse here or there in a track, I was not a fan of the words used in “Fake Apes” at all. Unfortunately, the use of these words took away my enjoyment of the rest of the track, as extraneous expletives, especially those of this type, tend to do for me when I listen to music.
“Happy Happyism” is much more my speed. Although still incorporating the cool techno influences Pastel Dynasty does well, the track is also more relaxed at the start, with sweeping instrumentals and warbling melodies instead of vocals. Well-mixed and well-placed in the album’s order, “Happy Happysim” serves as a refresher for the ear before transitioning almost seamlessly into the next track.
The empty spaces between the notes of “D!rt” say just as much as those that are filled. The instrumentals are dynamic and interesting, making them impossible to ignore, even if trying to focus on the lyrics. In other words: This track is seamless as one whole piece despite all the components working independently within it. This allows its intensity to really escalate, especially as the lyrics become more and more passionate and repetitive: “Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do, die / Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do, lie / Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do, cry….” The de-escalation at the end of the track puts a firm hold on the tracks intensity, bringing our hurtling to a slow chug and finally, a stop, before the next song can begin.
“N-E-W-S” also utilizes the spaces between notes well, albeit in a more subdued manner. Smooth vocals crash over the instrumentals in waves, leaving listeners with a stunted, musically interesting experience. Obviously well thought-out in its construction, “N-E-W-S” is dynamic and ever-changing, both instrumentally and lyrically. The delivery of each line comes as a surprise, creating the right amount of rub to keep things interesting through the entirety of the song’s 3:16 running time.
“There, There” begins with electronic instrumentals galore. Chaotic and full of energy, they lead us into dark, silky vocals that soon also erupt into mayhem. While certainly not something I can handle listening to more than a few times for its utter intensity, “There, There” suits Pastel Dynasty’s style and the elements of their latest album well, especially when put at this point in the album’s order.
“Hyperage” is haunting and gritty in instrumentals and lyrics. Although the rap-style segments within its verses aren’t my favorite, I do appreciate the stretching and building of tensions throughout the track as well as the obviously skilled lyricism in the introductory verses: “On your feet / Run through the catacombs / Feel around the unknown / Flirt with fear / And never grow / That youthful shine / This is it / Hyperage / Acquit / Grow old / Dust on the ground / Crumble / Gone without a sound / Or a mumble / As we fall through time.” Creating an intriguing mental picture through imagery, these lines truly stood out to me, even after listening to the track multiple times.
“Meanwhile” is another instrumental track, but that’s where its similarities with “Happy Happyism” end. Dark and jazzy, “Meanwhile” is an adventure all in itself with plenty of dips, turns, and dynamics that make the absence of lyrics inconsequential—or in my opinion, welcome. There are some tracks that just speak for themselves, and artists too often feel the need to muffle their impact with lyrics. Pastel Dynasty did right in making this an instrumental, and it is easily my favorite track of Parental Advisory overall thanks to its gritty, yet effortlessly full aesthetic.
“I Don’t Like Music” is another of Pastel Dynasty’s edgier tracks. With more language that I don’t feel is necessary—and that I definitely can’t approve of—it definitely is another song from Parental Advisory that wasn’t meant for an audience like me. That being said, the rhythms and beats of the track are interesting, as are the pictures created by the lyrics’ imagery.
“Home” is quintessentially Pastel Dynasty: Waves of smooth vocals backed by well-mixed electronic and instrumental tracks create an undeniable tension throughout the track, putting listeners on the edge of their seats for the entirety of the song’s running time. Aggressive in a more subdued way than other tracks of Parental Advisory, “Home” has the perfect level of subtlety and symbolism that allows it to be a tasteful track without compromising artistic voice.
“So Raw” is the final track of Parental Advisory, and unfortunately another that uses language that I cannot endorse. Chaotic and aggressive in nature, the track follows the aesthetic of many of its predecessors, tying up the album in a similar style.
Interested in seeing Pastel Dynasty play Parental Advisory and their other records live? You can catch them playing Yeast by sweet beast fest in Austin on March 14th, American Babylon 4 in North Carolina on May 24th, and on their upcoming west coast tour in October.
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***Like the majority of my reviews, a submission fee was charged for this post. Please note that views expressed by the artist or music do not necessarily reflect my own, but my own clearly-expressed opinions do .***