Composed of OK Go’s Tim Norwind and former He Say/She Say member Drea Smith, Los Angeles duo PYYRAMIDS
have some dark, grimy things to work out on their debut LP, Brightest Darkest Day
. These are wounds that they’re excited to have the opportunity to pick at, sounds that wouldn’t fit either of their more prominent acts. That said, elements of electro-rock and indie pop are ingrained into their music, at times making the grit endearing and at others backing away from it.
After a brief intro, “Smoke and Mirrors” sets the scene, menacing fuzz, moaned backing vocals, tribal percussion, and squeals of noise peaking through the mire. Smith insists that they’re “laughing in the faces of everyone we know,” all while the unnamed they are trying to “dirty up” their names. The anxiety creeps around in anonymity, the track a dark fog shifting in and out of focus. The hook isn’t an ear worm, but they know their atmospherics and style.
This is soon followed by “Don’t Go”, a pop ballad that retains the ovoid bass bounce and simple drum patter, but leaves all of the sonic darkness behind, as if the duo were afraid of pushing too far into the gloom. Later, the multi-harmonized “Time” feels buried in its own unnecessary electronic flourishes, as if it were forced into the stylistic mold the two had picked out.
At their best, PYYRAMIDS push towards a less anthemic, yet equally dramatic take on Metric. This is particularly true of the dense “Paper Doll” with its thundering drums and isolationist lyrics, and the windy, noir-driven pulse of “That Ain’t Right”. Given enough time, these experienced musicians should be able to pare things down to these more focused moments, finding the right songs to drape with their ultra stylized vision.
Essential Tracks: “Smoke and Mirrors”, “That Ain’t Right”