Late last year we reviewed Dan Pearl’s Salvador, which while being founded in shoegaze also had roots in alternative music. Since then he has teamed up with Julia Robins (to sing on a couple of his compositions), refined some of his techniques and explored new territory in a project called Mona Lise Overdrive. On their recent release Mona Lise Pearl and Robins explore trip-hop, shoegaze and even R&B while not sounding convoluted and undeniably accessible. Pearl has certainly upped his game in terms of production and mixing ability. The compositions are cleaner and have a better sense of space than some of his other material. The addition of Robins is a very welcome component as her voice carries the four songs on this EP.
The album opens with a fun, catchy pop song called “Missed.” Robins carries the song with a vocal melody that is infectious and bound to get stuck in your head. She sings; “These last flowers they aren’t for you / You’re leaving us high, you’re leaving us stranded.” Musically, Pearl keeps it sparse with a looped drum beat, clean rhythm guitar and a lead guitar that have a little bit of fuzz on it.
The second song “Juggernaut” is new territory for Pearl as it is trip-hop that revolves a heavy bass, hip-hop style drums and a warbly cloud of ambience. Robins’ mysterious noir-style type voice fits like a glove around the music. My only complaint is that the song was too short and felt incomplete. I would have loved to hear a little bit more from the song as they established a very cool beat and mood.
“We'll Dance” mixes up piano, bass and fragments of white noise as Robins delivers a solid vocal performance. The finest moment comes when she sings; “And just to know / We’ll dance.” The EP closes with “Crushed,” which is the first song that you notice some of the shoegaze influence on his first release. Robins sings in a dynamic R&B style as Pearl creates a distorted canvas of white noise that is grounded in classic shoegaze. “Crushed” felt like the most complete song on the album and I enjoyed the blending of genres.
Pearl and Robins may be onto something here. As of right now it seems as if they are on the right track. I’m looking forward to what else is to come from the duo.
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