Now I’m not going to lie, Yukimi Nagano contributing to Damon Albarn’s vision in the Gorillaz was, simply put, spectacular. So much so, it is something that could be added to a bucket list only to be immediately checked off.
Hear me out here, because this isn’t quite going where you may think. The defining splendor that was found in “Empire Ants” was not just the culminating of two masterful musicians, but the discovery of a sound like no other. Sadly, that sound was gone as soon as it arrived.
Dan “The Automator” Nakamura (yes, has ties to the Gorillaz) has combined his incredibly visionary style with the elegant crooning of the sexy, sultry Emily Wells. In laymen’s terms, it is a combination I’ve been waiting for, for a very long time.
And I didn’t even know until I heard it.
Under the moniker of Pillowfight, Dan Nakamura and Wells are launching a self-titled masterpiece.
Contrary to the name, Pillowfight hits hard on your inner audiophile leaving, not a fluffy memory of kiddy humor, but an utterly impressive, lasting impression.
The twelve track, over 45 minute LP couldn’t be better. Honestly, I’ve gone Sherlock Holmes on this album and cannot find a single flaw that would detract from its grandeur. It clings to rich, dark layers and spins melodies seemingly delivered by the musical heaven’s themselves.
Pillowfight wastes no time, opening with “Used to Think” and “In the Afternoon.” By the end of the first two tracks you’ll be hooked with very little effort. Each song flexes a different style faintly enough to diversify the recording, but maintains a consistency to live within its own personality. There are a few magical moments where things come together in an unexpected, yet vividly rewarding way; in “Rain” Wells strikes gold with game-changing harmony, “Get Down” dishes up the funk you don’t expect and “I Work Hard” plays to a smoky, sultry, sexiness that will leave your head spinning. Well’s voice will linger in your head long after the music is gone. Lyrics like “This city/this city/it’s a lonely city when your heart’s been left ajar” will echo within you days from now.
Though the album features great contributions from Kid Koala and Lateef The Truthspeaker, the landscape is painted by the duo and it couldn’t be more vibrant and deep. Nothing feels forced, in fact, each word, beat and layer feels as natural as breathing. Though the two have, in my humble opinion, given life to a style (one which we had a mere taste of when the lead of Little Dragon met the lead of Blur), there is one very important thing to take away from this and I cannot stress this enough. The vision of Dan The Automator and Emily Wells, is not the Gorillaz. They may be similar in layered dreamy vision, but Pillowfight is exponentially unique in its own right.