Back in the dim and distant pre Covid world, where gigs were things you took for granted, I saw a support band. Yes, I know, hold the front page. For those who’ve forgotten the purpose of opening acts, they are the background noise you hear over the chatter and sound of alcohol being consumed. I’m being facetious only to illustrate the risk, but also the pleasure, of low expectations being shattered.
As if to perfectly illustrate this, the three members of Pale Blue Eyes strode unassumingly onto the stage and proceeded to quietly, and not so quietly, win me over and blow me away.
In sync and almost machine like, bass and drums meshed and supported in a way that can only come from many hours in a remote Devonian practice room or some spooky telepathy, or maybe both.
What I got that night was a blend of dream pop and post punk that cast a craftily hypnotic spell over the room, even more of an achievement considering the venue doubles as a bowling alley…
And then: the screen goes blurry, music plays and we fast forward eighteen tumultuous months and at last find out if PBE can deliver on record or was I just
hallucinating their promise? It happens.
Motionless wastes no time, hitting you between the eyes with a beautifully insistent groove, just feel that bass run through your cranium. The dream pop overtones remain but those flecks of post punk grit are the key for me, so while it may wash over you, in the nicest way possible, on its journey the hooks sink deep via an insidiously lithe motorik pulse and guitarist/vocalist Matt’s sing-song refrain. PBE pull off that interesting trick, giving us a supremely catchy song that feels sleek and shiny on the surface but underneath hides a tension worthy of the Comsat Angels at their compelling best and is actually repeatedly asking you that most worrying of questions, ‘do you feel in control: are you in control..?’
Best not to answer maybe…
I imagine Motionless being edited down from an immense jam, a moment where the band lock eyes, enter the zone and don’t want to let go. Like a spring wound tighter and tighter but without the predictable climax. You won’t get it out of your head.
Double A side Chelsea dives into more epic shoegaze territory, there’s a huge sense of space and a sweetly twinkling background effect that makes me want to switch to headphones for full immersion. Actually on reflection it’s a kind of semi-acoustic shoegaze, an acoustic strum undercut with deep, reverberating electric chords. It’s got that creamy, lying on the grass, gazing at the sky feel. I like it.
Maybe you can tell, but I’d say on balance, promise fulfilled so far. An album before the year is out would be the real test. PBE are too big for a humble seven inch, they need the space to fill.
There’s something special here – don’t let it pass you by.