Björn Synneby and Daniel Högberg, the Swedish duo that comprises Pacific!, released a series of acclaimed 7-inch singles before unleashing their debut album on the world earlier in the year. Finally gaining a UK outing this month, with a heavily revised track listing, Reveries is a warm breeze of an album that easily repays the promise of those earlier releases.
The fusion of electronic textures and melodic indie pop is hardly a new sound, with bands such as Hot Chip and Phoenix enjoying critical and commercial success mining the very same blueprint. Synneby and H�gberg join these exalted ranks by virtue of their ability to craft a cohesive album positively brimming over with hook lines and slick vocal harmonies set to bouncy Europop beats.
The opening instrumental Villanova Sunset glides by on a bed of bubbling synthesizers and funky bass, before the duo up the ante with Break Your Social System and Sunset Blvd, the former aping the vocal stylings of late 70s soft rock kings ELO and the latter straying into a blissful west coast 60s pop groove that would have Brian Wilson purring with pleasure. The hypnotic burble of a sitar throughout Sunset Blvd is further evidence of Pacific!’s willingness to throw unusual instrumentation into the mix.
The singles Hot Lips and Number One have already generated plenty of enthusiastic reviews, and with good reason as both tracks are tailor made for the dance floor with their crisp beats, bouncing synths and driving vocal lines. The influence of hip French dance scenesters Daft Punk and Justice rings heavily here and on Runway To Nowhere, a funky instrumental that gives the album welcome breathing space in the middle.
For those who still listen to an album in sequential order, the second half of the album may lack some of the killer punches of the first half but features some intriguing musical juxtapositions. The downbeat ballad Love Isn’t Always On Time is followed by Disappear, a mid-tempo indie pop delight that suddenly breaks into a weird hoedown of synths and stuttering beats shortly before the end.
The sublime Silent Running manages to make a pedal steel guitar and drum machines sound like natural bedfellows, while Live Before Seven does something similar with a harpsichord and reprises those delightful Beach Boys harmonies.
This version of the album closes with the decidedly odd A Tree, a downbeat ballad that is clearly in thrall to the aforementioned ELO, right down to the vocoderized playout. A noble but strange choice to end the album (the final track on the US version was Silent Running), but perfectly fitting for a band that manages to make such sweet music from wildly different sources.