You’re in your pyjamas, drinking beer in the sun. It’s warm and you’re sleepy, luxuriantly stretching and gazing at the heat-haze. You’re kinda high, and you’ve been at the cough syrup. You’ve got bed head but you look good. You’re listening to Poolside’s debut LP, Pacific Standard Time.
Filip Nikolic and Jeffrey Paradise presumably live this lifestyle, casually and carelessly making what they call 'day-time disco' in the LA sun. And while it may not be the most challenging or the best-crafted of albums, you get the impression that Nikolic and Paradise have achieved exactly what they set out to do, and created an album that could soundtrack a lazy day, or in the right hands, a lazy summer.
With its delayed UK release date, this is a far from seasonal album. It’s entirely tied to summer, sun, and holidays, from its tropical percussion to its slinking bass-lines. Oozing along like a melting daiquiri, sliding from song to song like the drop of an infinity pool, the presiding mood is one of glossy wealth and supreme ease. Mellow, but decidedly warm, it’s a kind of early evening transition record, a soundtrack to pouring yourself a drink whilst your getting ready, gearing up for what’s to come.
For the most part, it’s like listening to a blissed-out, completely inert MGMT – all acid-drenched synths, liquid bass lines and hazy harmonies. Opener ‘Tulsa’ is as woozy and sun-soaked as waking up after an accidental sun-bathing nap, with smooth, rich guitars just undercut with the dusty clicks and crackles of a vinyl recording. But before you can completely switch off, the funk and four-to-the-floor of ‘Next To You’ kicks in, mixing up the groove just enough for the listener to stay conscious. Further in, we get the shimmering, mirage-like ‘Harvest Moon’, with languid, liquid bass. It’s the soundtrack to you rolling over and thinking about going back to sleep. Elsewhere, ‘Kiss You Forever’ fits in with Pacific Standard Time’s absent-minded sensuality, casually seductive with sex loitering at the back of Poolside’s sun-stroked minds. With its tropical synths and vocals reminiscent of the Flaming Lips, it’s the poppiest of the tracks, and a welcome change in tempo. Only ‘Off My Mind’, a slow ballad without the propulsive beat and bass, lets the album down, throwing Nikolic’s dreary vocals into sharp relief.
In keeping with their decadent attitude, it’s the strung-out instrumentals at which Poolside are most successful. ‘Golden Hour’ is a gorgeous six-minute jam, with trickling, tropical percussion and panoramic synths, whilst ‘California Sunset’ is a looping, minimal groove as expansive as its name would have you believe. At the other end of the spectrum, ‘Slow Down’ is the most energetic track, edging out of chillwave and into disco proper, indicative of what Poolside could achieve if they sobered up a bit and got their heads down.
Louche and decadent, this album could be represented in one image - a lens-flared screen shot from GTA Vice City, filled with palm trees, swimming pools and all the opulent, pastel-shaded glory of a Californian dusk. It is slightly one-track minded, slightly shallow yes, but it’s also sunny, sultry, and slick.
7Kat Waplington's Score