2016 Music Reviews

Album Review: Pavo Pavo ‘Young Narrator in the Breakers’


Lost in the recent news of President-Elect Donald Trump’s plans to defund NASA, it appears that a quintet of classically trained musicians have stumbled upon a wormhole located inside their one-room Brooklyn rehearsal space. The time tunnel, a primary color kaleidoscope, leads directly inside a coat closet; that when opened, ushers them into Alan Parsons’ rec room, circa 1977. Interrupting tea (and ‘ludes) time, these classists, strangers in a shag land, convince Mr. Sirius to show them the mystic ways of soft rock. Incense is burned, A7sus is strummed, pinkie nails suddenly grow two inches; things are, you know, far out. Journeying back to present — just in time to pay the rent — Pavo Pavo (a name I’m most certainly mispronouncing, even if I’m not) have put their lessons to good use on their debut album, Young Narrator in the Breakers.

Opening with their surprise indie hit from late ’15, “Ran Ran Ran,” Pavo Pavo is wise enough to start with the album’s strongest track. I first listened to the tune while dining at the Burbank Fuddruckers — a creative hotbed of Lock ‘Er Up Moms and Pokemon Goers. “Time is a hole in my waterbed” sings lone woman of the five, Eliza Bagg. Ethereal with an eye roll, Bagg seems to have materialized from a Zach Braff vision board. Her voice is soothing, a tossed-off Julie Andrews. Pulsating with a bass line borrowed from Angelo Badalamenti’s work on Twin Peaks, the song threatens to become too repetitive, but just then the beat picks up, begging us to dance again.

Pavo Pavo claim to be optimists and that vibe shows up in the music; as if instead of the Wilson/Love brood, the Beach Boys consisted of four Al Jardines. “Annie Hall” — another standout, and a sly political statement evoking the name of a man convicted of nothing — is a Jon Brion-inspired jaunty track, perfect for a midnight dip in a blood red lava lamp. For East Coasters, Pavo Pavo may feel steeped in the Laurel Canyon lore, creating a soundtrack for mamas and papas still struggling from the aftermath of an authoritarian administration — a harbinger of things to come? After all, the last track is entitled “2020, We’ll Have Nothing Going On.” Only off by a few years.

While listening, I keep coming back to the album artwork; two women, similarly dressed and holding hands, take a stroll — they are neither heading towards anything and nothing seems behind them. In the sky, a ballerina dances on the moon. The 50s as future tense. The women will overcome, but what?

Maybe that answer lies in “Wiserway,” with it’s Reading Rainbow synths and talk of an oncoming tornado. But vocalist/guitarist Oliver Hill is unafraid. Calm on the eve of destruction, Hill sings “Maybe it shines like a diamond/maybe it cuts like a knife” — an outlook each of us should adopt for these next tumultuous four years, hand in hand, walking through the fire, towards a utopian dance floor. Meet you there. Wherever that may be.

Mike Postalakis (@mikepostalakis) is a writer, director and comedian living in Los Angeles. He doesn’t have a Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or HBO Go account. Instead, he spends his extra money at the Gap.