After releasing some well-received power pop albums, Portland’s Little Beirut called it a day in 2010. Lead guitarist Edwin Paroissien also found himself unemployed from his day job but undeterred he soldiered and began writing songs as Pacific Mean Time. Drawing on teenage influences of REM, The Smiths and The Replacements, Paroissien and his bandmates now aim to “make a record that sounded like something the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse would make”. So we have a folk-tinged but dreamy indie rock album.
The beginning strains of ‘Blindfolds’ make for a rather unassuming start, amounting to little more than subtle indie rock. However, the following ‘Minutes To Midnight’ definitely warrants a closer listen. It’s the moment where the yearning vocals gain a new strength and the decision to back those up with an infectious banjo melody and modern beats is a stroke of genius. ‘New Blood’ is lively and inventive, bolstered by some satisfyingly fleshy percussion. Meanwhile, ‘A Simple Thing’ and the terrific ‘Bo Derek’ bubble along nicely (the latter’s lyric of “gotta get outside and get some air” could be Paroissien’s manifesto after toiling away in his basement studio).
These are quietly insistent songs which only get under your skin after the third or fourth listen. The excellent run continues on to the most immediate track as ‘Straight Shot (Towards The Sun)’ offers a beautifully, modern take on the Yacht Rock sound. Granted, on a somewhat less even second half to the record, the trio fare less well on the stomping rock of ‘How To Cheat Death’ but make up for it with the sensitivity shown on ‘White Blackbird’ and the twinkling closer ‘Last Song On The Record’.
Pacific Mean Time may not shock their world with their first album but this is intelligent and well-crafted indie rock music which slowly hooks you in. So given what Paroissien has been through, this is a definite tale of triumph winning out over despair.
Sparklehorse, A. Rex/Andrew Espinola, Sport Of Kings