It’s always exciting to discover a band you just know are destined for great things, when you listen to a song or an album and have a small epiphany. I had a similar experience earlier this year with a band called Pajama People, a psychedelic synth-pop quartet and one of the most exciting acts to come out of Brooklyn in recent months. It can be difficult to stand out in a place where hundreds of musicians come to make their mark every year, but Pajama People do so with confident ease. Their debut album, the cheekily titled Cool Intentions, was released in April via Canadian cassette label Memory No. 36 Recordings and because of its bold vision of synth-pop, has become one of my favourite albums of 2013.
Pajama People originated in 2011 as a bedroom pop project between musician couple Lindsay Gordon and Will Lakritz. Whilst staying at Lakritz’s parental home in Winchester, Massachusetts, the duo recorded two lovely EPs, I Like Your Rugs and After the Gold Rugs. In early 2012, Pajama People then underwent an important transition when two additional members joined the band: multi-instrumentalist Steven Salazar from electronic pop act Shanghai Beach on drums, guitar and additional synths, and Luke Alvine, member of Boston rock band Dirty Virgins, on bass. After a two week tour promoting their new line-up, the group relocated to Brooklyn and began working on their first full-length as a four-piece, finding a home in the city’s synth-pop scene, but also ready to redefine and experiment with the boundaries of this genre.
Since the admission of Salazar and Alvine, Pajama People’s sound has matured and progressed, retaining the dreamlike aesthetic of the EPs, but with added influence and texture. On Cool Intentions, the band imbue their music with elements of disco, jazz and psychedelia, conjuring a multi-layered sound that transcends the restrictions of genre and forms a beautifully fluid album. Each member of Pajama People shines on the LP and it’s invigorating to see a group play together so cohesively. As a trained vocalist, Gordon’s voice is nothing short of heavenly, accentuated by the synth virtuoso of Lakritz and the vibrant drum beats of Salazar, who in turn provide contrast to Alvine’s moody bass lines. The first singles to drop from the album were stunning dream-pop number “Drum” and the woozy fairytale of “Wintertime (in my woods)”, yet these tracks only skate the surface of Cool Intentions, as each song on the album shimmers with its own curious magic and heralds a great future for this incredibly gifted band.
Highly talented and very cool, Pajama People are my favourite group of 2013 and have released one of the year’s most accomplished synth-pop albums. Keep an eye on the band’s Twitter page because they are currently in the midst of writing their second album, and if you’re fortunate enough to live in the New York area, be sure to catch them headlining at Cake Shop in the Lower East Side on August 20th. In the meantime, snatch up a limited edition cassette of Cool Intentions and bask in the gorgeous textures of Pajama People’s lush debut.