After listening to Pacific Air’s debut album Stop Talking, you’ll know that summer is finally peeking around the corner. As the much anticipated follow-up to the band’s critically acclaimed EP Long Live KOKO, the record is an aqua-tinged love letter to the West Coast and showcases the refreshing indie pop sound that Pacific Air have been praised for over the last year.
For readers who are unfamiliar with the group, Pacific Air consists of young brothers Ryan and Taylor Lawhon from Southern California. Their rise to fame sounds almost dream-like, mimicking the fantasies of many bedroom-recorded musicians. The Lawhons tentatively began making music in early 2012, and under their original moniker KO KO, uploaded three new songs on their Bandcamp in March that year. In less than 24 hours they were spotted by Vice and reached number one on The Hype Machine within just two days. After flying to New York a week later, the duo secured a record deal with prestigious label Republic Records and the assistance of Passion Pit producer Chris Zane before releasing an innovative EP that led to a flurry of international applause.
For many young upcoming bands, this kind of hype can overshadow the actual music. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Pacific Air. Building upon the strengths of their previous EP, Stop Talking is a bubbly album adorned with sun-kissed melodies, sparkling instruments, and the charming idiosyncrasies of whistling and finger snapping. It is a record packed to the brim with infectious pop songs and reflects the carefree attitude of the long summer days. One of the album’s best songs is “Roses”, a love letter penned against the rumble of the ocean, with a sweeping chorus that you’ll soon find yourself humming along to, and robotic vocals that give the song a curiously eerie edge. Other stunning tracks include dream-pop anecdote “Float”, buoyant single “Move” and personal favourite “Sunshine”, with its breathy harmonies building towards a glorious crescendo, making Stop Talking a hard record to listen to without a grin on your face.
Another attractive characteristic of Pacific Air’s music is its affinity for nature. The band has asserted in interviews that this allure stems from the members’ nomadic upbringing, having travelled across the West Coast for most of their childhood and basking in its unspoiled beauty along the way. Their affection for the Californian landscape, along with the new-age sensibilities of the Enya and Deep Forest records they grew up with, colours each song on Stop Talking, with lucid imagery revolving around finding “our souls next to the water” and having “the smell of seaweed on your mind”. This preoccupation with the cleansing properties of the ocean adds to the album’s whimsical summer vibe, and transforms the sullen-faced youth of Pacific Air into a duo of sea creatures who have lost their way on land and long for the comfort of the water.
Despite Pacific Air’s penchant for sunshine, Stop Talking isn’t the shallow album you may expect. As for many bands, music gives Pacific Air the opportunity to turn inwards, and beneath its shimmering veneer of indie pop the record explores themes of discontent. Opening track “Lose My Mind” ponders growth and being caught between the boundaries of innocence and manhood as Ryan sings about yearning to fit into his father’s sweater yet running from responsibility by losing his job. Likewise, sensitive track “Intermission” is a lovely vignette that will probably be overlooked by the energetic tracks that dwarf it, but reveals a maturity beyond the boys’ years, and the beguiling “So Strange” closes the album with an insightful discussion on identity against the notes of a melancholy organ. These tracks prevent Stop Talking from becoming a one-dimensional record, and give listeners a portrait of two young men in a painful state of transition as they discuss feelings of not belonging and their struggle against stagnation.
Stop Talking may not be the best album you’ll hear in 2013, but its dreamy pop anthems will provide a perfect backdrop for your summer excursions and promises great things ahead for Pacific Air. Easily the new face of the indie music scene, the Lawhon brothers craft a delightful record inspired by the beauty of nature and unearth a new self-understanding along the way.