For Your Home or Office by Park Avenue Music (Review)

Understated, subtle, patiently constructed electronic pop at its finest.
For Your Home or Office, Park Avenue Music

Lately I’ve felt like I’m up to my ears in wispy, female-fronted, glitch-laced electronic pop. But that’s probably because I’ve been so enamored with this 6 song EP from Park Avenue Music, the Sacramento-based duo of Jeannette Faith and Wes Steed. I’m starting to think that this sort of electronic pop is the new shoegaze for me — no matter how many times I hear these wispy, glitchy sounds, I never seem to get tired of them. And that’s especially true when a band like Park Avenue Music does it this well.

The EP begins with its strongest track, the ironically-titled “Cutter.” Ironic because there is nothing about this song that is sharp or jagged whatsoever. Even the song’s glitchy rhythms have a softness and fragility about them, drifting in from the corners of the song like flurries of snow, and dissipating just as quickly.

The mood of the song, and of the EP as a whole, is immediately set by the soft, wavering tones that begin to coalesce, flutter apart as if disturbed by a slight spring breeze, and slowly float back towards eachother again in the song’s opening minutes. Furthermore, cut-up snippets of Faith’s vocals can be heard, although their transitory nature makes it seem like they’re registering on an almost subconscious level — which only adds to the song’s sleepy surrealness (try listening to it at midnight to see what I mean).

From this track, it becomes apparent that what makes Park Avenue Music’s music so enticing and beguiling is the duo’s understated, subtle, and patient way of putting their songs together. They have no problem with taking an extra 30 seconds here or an extra 2 minutes there to give their sounds a little more breathing room, a little more space in which to ring and chime. And the approach works wonderfully, creating intimate little worlds that seem to grow in detail and nuance as each song unfolds.

“The Modern Guide,” one of the EP’s most structured tracks, benefits greatly from this method, ending in a denouement of softly shifting tone layers and gurgling rhythms that drift down around listener like newfallen snow — or hang there, suspended in midair, as the listener is drawn up into them. Even the parts of the disc that shouldn’t work, such as the warped, heavily-affected vocals on “Golden Hummingbird” — which sound like Lamb’s Lou Rhodes sleepwalking through a hall of funhouse mirrors — do work because of the tentative, almost humble nature of the duo’s sound.

Altogether, an incredibly solid disc, and one of the best things I’ve ever heard from Clairecords. I had no idea what to expect when I slipped this into my car stereo, but I was captivated at the very first softly reverbed tone and crisp dash of glitch. Truly wonderful stuff capable of turning even the drive home on a rainy December evening after a long day at work into something magical and otherworldly.

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