While some electronic music is crafted to be adored by pulsating crowds with their hands in the air, there are other, darker strains that ache for the backdrop of an empty room. Echoing and loop-heavy, Pearl Necklace’s debut full-length, Soft Opening, is the music of isolation, not collective experience and jubilance.
The album contains layers of synthesizers and beats that sound like they were performed on rusty water pipes. At times the effect is calming, like a kind of tranced-out lullaby. Bandmates Bryce Hackford and Frank Lyon obviously love what they do, and the breakdown convinces others to love it, too. But the pace of music like this needs to vary and the trance needs to be punctuated with other states of mind. That’s where Soft Opening falls short.
In “Radio Love”, a shimmering, dirge-like tune that doubles back on itself like a piece of ribbon candy, what starts out as a promising repetition of notes soon solidifies disappointingly into a desire for something deeper, something more varied. “Why Toto” adds what sounds like another vocal layer to the formula, although it could just as easily be another breed of synth or some recorded wind. It plays like the soundtrack to a postmodern Wuthering Heights, and while it does a great job of setting a scene, Cathy and Heathcliff never emerge with any of the action.
What Hackford and Lyon really need is a plot, a purpose, a driving force, and an end goal. Without those things, Soft Openings gets lost and doesn’t quite know how to make its way back.
Essential Tracks: “Radio Love”, “Why Toto”