Something that has stayed with me for most of my life was a phrase I heard early on in a story writing class I took in college. The professor told the small group of us novice would be writers something very important. He said with any piece of writing you must “hook them with the first sentence. If the first sentence is no good then the rest of the writing won’t be that good either.” He then went on to prove his point citing how the first three lines of Hamlet explain in short the entire play.
Thespians and writers in their own right Josh Thornhill and Fred Kalil, who make up the Monroe, Louisiana electropop duo Porcelain People seem to have the same idea in mind of hooking their audience from the get go on their bright debut Streetlights. The upbeat and radio-friendly opener “Streetlights” is gushing with pop sensibility at its finest. The pair combine piano and synth with punchy drums and catchy overdubs and then add in Thornhill’s soulful and deeply poetic R&B vocals. Next the pair show they’re not just another pop band by taking a darker and harder turn on “Vital.” With a hard-hitting drum track and searing synths “Vital” once again grabs the listener by the ears, even adding in a an unexpected but very welcoming rap interlude.
Streetlights dips into the hopeful and romantic R&B territory on “Start it Over” and the piano driven downtempo and spiritually soulful ballad “Harlequin.” Things pick up again on the uplifting, “Play in My Paradise,” a piece of super saturated pop. This is followed up by the somber yet powerful ballad “Beating Hearts” with its eclectic blend of piano and strings sliced through with Thornhill’s powerful and effecting vocals.
Aside from its wide range of styles and ideas, Streetlights is also very impressive for its production value. Many times this is left up to someone whose sole job it is to oversee the recording process. In this case it was done purely by Josh Thornhill and Fred Kalil themselves. The arrangements are spot on and the piano and synths sound as though they belonged together. Fans and creators of electronic pop music should take note of Streetlights and use it as an industry standard.
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