Albums / music / Phono Select's pick of the month

Phono Select’s Pick of the Month: Electro Group – A New Pacifica

I have been putting off writing this album review in spite of really liking this album. I didn’t want to wreck a perfectly good album by talking about it. And it’s not often (ever?) that I’m asked to write an album review for an album that came out thirteen, count ’em, THIRTEEN, years ago. Remember when that NPR Intern reviewed Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back album a decade after it came out? That poor kid got crucified for saying he liked the new Drake album better.

Why are TUBE’s Editors trying to make me the next Austin Cooper?

Did I forget their birthdays again?

OK. Having acknowledged the intrinsic danger of attempting this sort of review… here we go.

A New Pacifica came out in 2000, and it sounds like an album that came out in 2000. The fuzz pedals are cranked so hard that the guitar sound almost has an 8-bit crunch to it. There’s a sparkly distortion on the bass guitar, too. The vocals are mixed really low (but that’s fine, because back then we didn’t really care what the lyrics were). Even the drums sound like they’re recorded with a bunch of reverb. The mixing – as in the studio engineer’s mixing – of these songs (never mind the songs themselves) belongs to a specific moment in time. And just so you can recall that specific moment in time with me:  Madonna was in her discocowboy phase. You thought Meet the Parents was a funny movie because there was only one of them. I was trying to decide if I should tell my roommate I found his porn stash or not. And the world was full of great shoegaze music. And that’s what A New Pacifica is – a really good shoegaze album from 2000.

I feel like it’s pretty safe to say there aren’t many people listening to shoegaze anymore… are they? I say this both as a former fan of that kind of music who isn’t listening to it as well as someone who is fully awareof the fact that My Bloody Valentine released an album this year. One album will not revive a genre. Even if it’s a genre worth reviving. I get out of this album what poor Austin Cooper could never get out of It Takes a Nation. I get nostalgia.

They’re never going to let me write another one of these again.

Here’s what I’m trying to say: I really liked this album. Maybe just because I hadn’t listened to an album like this for so long (say… 13 years?). “La Ballena Alegria” is a solid track from beginning to end, and “Reprise” reminds me of what I loved about The Cocteau Twins and Pale Saints and MBV and Slowdive. And if you recognize those band names, you should definitely check out. Or maybe if you’re into Beach House, Wavves, or M83 (those bands aren’t really shoegaze, but this album is, I think, a part of their past), you’ll dig this. But if this isn’t your wheelhouse, then Electro Group may not be your best introduction. And may God have mercy on your uncultured soul.

The good news is that Electro Group is back together and playing shows again. If a humble reviewer is allowed to make such suggestions, I say leave this album alone and go see them live. These guys are talented and skilled musicians – the writing on this album reflects that – and something tells me that Electro Group is just as loud and tight live as I hope they are.

[Hey Editors. I found out that a vinyl copy of this is going for 670 bones on Amazon. Cool if I keep it?]

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