5 Track, LP (2011, Confetti Island)
The music community arguably needs another cute genre description like Charlie Sheen needs a special delivery of Colombian marching powder and a bevy of Hollywood sycophants fellating his precious ego. Ignoring the inherent risks of such a move, Melbourne band Pageants have decided to make its own splash into the shallow world of music discourse by describing its music as “sandal-gaze”. And, it must be conceded, it’s a useful contribution.
Considered in the abstract, sandal-gaze suggests a more pious version of the motley band of baggy-jeaned, floppy-fringed kids who saturated the airwaves in the early 1990s; a brand of psychedelia that eschews introspective adolescent angst for a healthier, dreamy optimism. At the risk of being sucked into the discursive mire, that’s territory where Pageants notionally reside.
Recorded in early 2009 at Three Phase Studios in East Brunswick by Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring), Pageants’ debut release Forbidden Delicious is a five-song CD EP, complimented with a 7” featuring two songs from the EP. The overriding impression that strikes you – in a plush velvet glove sort of a way – is that Pageants have got some very good songs.
‘Drink Tha World’ opens proceedings with a lush collage of sweet harmonies, a deceptively simple lick and an overriding aesthetic that infuses Stone Roses pop with a hippie idealism that’s thankfully devoid of flaccid rhetoric. The syncopated delivery of ‘Portuguese’ – a rumbling drum here, a tambourine there, a distinct psych-stained lick thrown in for good measure – is tantalising to the senses, while ‘Airbrushed Dolphins’ sidles up to the door of a 1950s high school prom venue and saturates the unsuspecting attendees with a Ricky Nelson moment seen through the eyes of The Raveonettes with cinematic direction from David Lynch.
‘Sonic Teeth’ is the closest thing to a linear rock’n’roll event on the record, and even then Pageants are loathe to let a straight 4/4 beat get in the way of some acid-stained freak-out moments that stay just within the perimeter of indulgent exploration. As a closing measure, ‘Crushin’ Diamonds With Her Teeth’ punctuates sunshine splashed pop with flecks of darkness and lines of thick garage fuzz, threatening to wander off into the psychedelic ether if only the reigns of pop would be released.
But for all their gazing at open-toed footwear, Pageants never lose sight of what’s important: a good song. It’s what makes Forbidden Delicious such a terrific record.
by Patrick Emery