Should you take a tour of Pleasure Island?
Channel A Records, 2014
5.7 / 10
While The Mast’s debut album, Wild Poppies, featured more traditional instrumentation, female vocalist and guitarist Haale Gafori and drummer Matt Kilmer are implementing the tried-and-true male/female duo formula for their follow-up Pleasure Island. More electronic in its arrangements, Pleasure Island offers tourists few surprises from countless electro-pop duos making similar music, other than The Mast’s arrangements sound more club-oriented and glitchy1. When paired with Gafori’s adequately dreamy voice, Pleasure Island is close to matching Purity Ring’s hip hop laced full-length debut. I say close because Purity Ring’s lyrics were rich in often unsettling detail that paired well with the mysterious and haunting vibe of their music. Pleasure Island isn’t as lyrically deep, but past the usual relationship tropes exist a few songs that stand out
“Nuclear Dragon” is one such song, and it could be Pleasure Island’s best offering. Particularly inspired by a sculpture in New York City of a saint slaying a dragon that is actually made of defunct American and Russian nuclear missiles, the geographically detailed lyrics are made anthemic by an arrangement that features Kilmer playing an African balafon and a beat resembling Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla”2. Aside from the African balafon, Pleasure Island utilizes “found sounds,” including a sample of Pygmy water drumming from the Congo during the intro of “Lean Into It”; however, without knowing what the sample is, listeners may construe it as water splashing. Still, extra touches like these suggest The Mast are armed with creative potential, a necessity for the overcrowded electro-pop pool. Their potential just hasn’t been fully realized yet.
“Lean Into It”
1. Glitch-pop seems more apt than electro-pop.
2. Godzilla is a nuclear dragon, so it makes sense.