PillowTalk - Je Ne Sais Quoi LP on Wolf + Lamb

Words by: Sean-Michael Yoder
Posted: 26/3/14 7:19

Wolf + Lamb is such a hit or miss imprint, more interested in vibe and style than aesthetics. They mostly pander to the trust funder side of the same coin occupied by the no-nothing EDM masses, neither group offering much to the serious musical conversation being conducted by real musicians. That’s what makes the new album on Wolf + Lamb from San Francisco trio PillowTalk such a joyful surprise. Here are three guys that have known each other forever and finally got around to starting that dream band.

Together they have created a rather interesting musical statement on a label not really known for that. Part of the reason is that the album was recorded in an old school organic method of three guys sweating it out in a small room. Largely a dead practice these days, it was once how all artists from Sinatra to Black Flag churned out records and it allowed combustion to take place in the studio even when less than inspired artists were involved.

Inspiration, however, is not the problem with Je Ne Sais Quoi, in fact you could even say PillowTalk has too much inspiration. This all-over-the-map style makes it hard to pin them down in terms of a sound but gives the album a loose, sloppy vibe that is a welcome change of pace from the stuffy vibes of a Cobblestone Jazz.

Je Ne Sais Quoi offers a short intro track to help listeners get in the right mind set before sliding into one of the album’s high points, “We All Have Rhythm”. Here the band sounds like the best of the output from label mate Soul Clap, without all of the limp pretentiousness. These guys sound more like they are ready to get furious with the chops and are only restraining themselves early on so they can make it all the way to the end of the long player without running out of gas. Pacing is everything. “Devil’s Run” sounds like ultra weak Nineties jangle pop. But let’s get real, who is playing raw guitar riffs on a dance music album that doesn’t have a tacky Skrillex haircut while gut punching out some hideous strain of warmed over bro-metal? The answer is no one of merit. It takes some guts to hang out such earnest influences in an almost inappropriate forum but these guys have huevos and they aren’t afraid to use them.

Ween, Nicolas Jaar, and Prince get visited on the equally out-of-place “Slim’s Night Out” while a much cooler version of Outkast gets channeled on the ultra modern “4 Walls”. The R&B of the former gets a straighter play on the less interesting “Meet Me In The Dark”. More in line with the typical Wolf + Lamb fare, the band kicks out the jazzy jams on “The Night I Met Luther” and the suave “LA To The Bay”, which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Mark Farina Mushroom Jazz compilation. The Haight-Ashbury roots that run deep in San Francisco show up in the harmonies on the album closer, “The Outcast”. Add a wickedly funky bass line to the track and you’ve pretty much summed up the ADHD approach to music that PillowTalk employs on Je Ne Sais Quoi. Almost as an aside, there is even a trio of straight dance floor tunes of varying shades and, gasp, a dubstep tune just to remind listeners this is still an electronic dance music album.

The fact that the lines get so blurred musically on this album is nothing but a good thing as at least one artist out there tries to push outside the form regardless of results. Not every song here works but it doesn’t really need to because the things that do work offer new insight into the making of an album in 2014.

Artist: PillowTalk
Title: Je Ne Sais Quoi LP
Label: Wolf + Lamb

Tracklist01. Our Story...02. We All Have Rhythm03. Devil's Run04. Slim's Night Out05. Lullaby06. Meet Me In The Dark07. The Night I Met Luther08. If I Try09. Homesick feat. Thugfucker10. Naive11. 4 Walls feat. Jaw, Navid Izadi, Aquarius Heaven & Dina Moursi12. LA To The Bay
13. DJ Tennis feat. PillowTalk - The Outcast (Acoustic Version)


Our Rating: 8/10



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