The crazy alchemy that is bridging throwback sounds with modern flair has eluded many and been achieved by a select few. Apparently the key to this formula is simply arming oneself with Mortar & Pestle.
With a retro vision played out over six underground jazzy electronic tracks, like a futuristic speak easy, Janaysa Lambert, Paul Shinichi and Sean Paul Duke grace the musical world with a presence reminiscent of vintage Bond themes and yet as fresh as anyone could have hoped.
Packing synth tightly against an experimental backdrop and wrapping it in Lambert’s powerful vocals there is a familiarity to the trio’s self-titled release. It feels as though these tracks were stashed away in the late 80s or early 90s with the intention of releasing them to the light of day when the world was ready. They are not groundbreaking by any means; but, this is a very good thing. Each track is as bold and vibrant as the titles would suggest. “U.V.” and “Electric Angel” drift and sway on an electric wonderland while the rolling jazzy undertones of “Pristine Dream” hints at a lost, darker Kylie Minogue track.
The highlight of the six tracks falls in fourth under the title “Lighthouse.” The nearly three and a half minute song is sultry and bold before it breaks into a piano driven ballad form that will have you seeing 007 titles flashing before your eyes. Plainly put, it strikes gold, Goldeneye, Goldfinger or Man With the Golden Gun, your call.
While I find myself hoping for more consistency in the lyrics, as they tend to fade in identity toward the end, I am reminded of the pure power that this trio packs in just their talents. Where most bands have the story and grow in instrumentals, Mortar & Pestle have a musical identity well beyond a debut release and endless possibilities when it comes to their story. To find a flaw in this release is simply grasping for something to convince you that a debut cannot possibly be this good. Though I will reiterate that this is not game changing music, it should be known that this is memorable and fun. You will come back to this album over and over again for the comfort and familiarity, but soon find yourself thinking that all those other sounds sound just like Mortar & Pestle.