Review: Pillar Point Mixes Upbeat and Brooding on ‘Marble Mouth’

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Abundantly danceable goes hand-in-hand with murky mood on Marble Mouth, the sophomore LP release from Pillar Point. The solo project of Seattle-based songwriter and musician Scott Reitherman – previously of indie pop group Throw Me the Statue – is now firmly footed in all its shimmering glory.

A new wave revival has been creeping across the airwaves, and Reitherman is one of few who seem to have hit the synth-driven nail on the head. Recorded with of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes, the album strikes the perfect balance of untethered euphoria and dead-of-night chill, all the while crafting beats you can’t help but move to.

The album kicks off with the gritty and glitchy “Part Time Love,” its deep, echoing vocals blending perfectly into a metallic instrumental. The sound is incredibly full, rounded out with pings and beeps and chaotic percussion. “Black Fly on a White Wall” picks up the pace even further with a twinkling melody and anthemic beat. It’s to Reitherman’s credit that his influences (think LCD Soundsystem and Talking Heads) are at once immediately recognizable and totally forgettable. Hitting home in just under 40 minutes total, the album feels completely new and unique.

From the piano-driven “Strange Brush” to the glitchy newsreel of “Gloomsday,” each track stands on its own two feet while blending seamlessly into the whole. “Dove” gratefully showcases Reitherman’s vocal abilities, allowing the inventive instrumentation to support him rather than overtake the lyricism. The love and relationships – or lack thereof – that thematically center the album are clearly illustrated by lyrics like, “I don’t have the time to worry who you kissed/I been spending my whole day/In a phased out haze.”

This is immersive electronic pop to the point of provocation. There is experimentation and instruments you can’t name. Mostly it’s doom-and-gloom, but set to a dance floor beat. The heavy rain at the close of “Lafayette” leads perfectly into the weather forecast of “Gloomsday” and its “there will be rain” message, a depressively-Seattle outlook that makes you want to zone out. But Reitherman won’t let you. “Turn up the speakers/forget the rain/strike a pose that makes your body unchain.” The tone change from his self-titled 2014 release is noticeable. Where that work twinkled, this one twists, turns, and tangles your emotions.

“Underground” is a soaring pop masterpiece that veers into disco, and closer “Dance Like You Wanna Die” barely requires more than its title to get the point across. It’s slow, surf-noir vibe leaves no ambiguity as to just how brooding Reitherman can get.

(Released via Polyvinyl Records, Marble Mouth is available for purchase via pillarpoint.bandcamp.com. Watch the music video for “Dove” below.)

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