After 6 years and several EPs, PAS/CAL has released its full-length debut.
Long-time fans of Detroit, Michigan-based PAS/CAL have certainly had to be patient over the years. Although the pop band, led by songwriter Casimer Pascal, released its first EP in 2002, its full-length debut came out only this past July. But the intriguingly titled I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura has turned out to be more than worth the 6-year wait.
The album begins with simple piano and dreamy vocals that recall the Beach Boys. It's an intriguing start; but as the music builds, it assumes the melodic sensibility of Belle and Sebastian with the instrumental theatricality of fellow Michigander Sufjan Stevens, forming a rich collage. But PAS/CAL manages to borrow from these other artists while maintaining a playfulness and unpredictability all its own, with false starts and more changes in direction than an amusement park roller coaster.
The music of PAS/CAL is fascinating, featuring cheery layers of oboe, organ and glockenspiel. But the lyrics to each song -– which reach the level of poetry without pretension -– add an entirely other dimension to the album.
It's a literary compliment, full of lines that are often both witty and heartbreaking. In "Little Red Radio," the narrator begs his mother for a Christmas gift: "Oh momma, you know I know you're broke, but can't you call dad and ask for money."
In "Oh Honey We're Ridiculous," the lyrics proclaim that "all our hopes and dreams are such silly things, they're just like us." But there's very little that's absurd or ridiculous about I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura, and one can only hope that PAS/CAL doesn't take another six years to release their next LP.
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