An Album Worth Delving into Headfirst.
Conceptual, dreamy and original — Pastel Lite is back with the work of art we’ve all been waiting for. The KL based experimental duo shifted from a forward sounding tone, and taken 13 languid steps back to a more dreamy and laidback soundscape, but still punches without losing out on its themes. With Balada, they manage to pull it off with aplomb, and possibly executed even better than expected — high praise, given their successful EP ‘Etcetera’.
From guitar-layered and snare-filled melodies to the exquisite choice of words — the 38-minute album is fitted for night drives home from work, or a half-an-hour train ride home. Though the game has changed in comparison to their previous EP, ‘Balada’ isn’t all mellow; the album complements the mellow with some upbeat vigour artfully injected into their songs. That being said, the songs are distinct enough to fit different moods. It is also reminiscent of the likes of MGMT & Alvvays, having incorporated noise-driven sounds and muffled vocals.
The album can be best described as a roller coaster, but a consistent one in the sense that the listener knows what to expect in the next track, but Eff and Faliq manage to twist it enough that it doesn’t sound like the former. It’s a beautiful way of drawing a path for the listener to follow, through the wave of emotions that Eff calls and glides upon, with Faliq supplementing the sumptuous and dreamy background that serves as the template that ‘Balada’ is based on.
The flow is already obvious from the first entry in the album – ‘Damsel’ starts off strong, powerful in the bass and snare hits, almost with a neo-electro vibe that accompanies you as you ride your bike along the highways of DUKE, with the skyline staring at you square in the face. The transition to ‘People’ is apparent as the guitar takes a step back for something more electronic, retaining the echoes of ‘Damsel,’ but adding and subtracting elements which will then form how the rest of the album will sound.
The highlight of the album is definitely ‘Masa Kita,’ a song that is in its own league. Eff and Faliq could easily be the pioneer of Malay dream pop, one of the first few bands after Laila’s Lounge to experiment putting together synth-infused melodies with the lyrically poetic Malay language. So much so in fact, that it can easily be a new genre altogether. ‘Caramel’ feels like an intermission between all that’s happening in the album; and the world. Not only that it sounds as if it was built upon a daydream, it’s also a portrayal of what love feels like. The vocals drown you into someplace else, paired with layers of nebulous synths and snares. Everything concludes harmoniously with ‘Zenith,’ the whole song practically looping back to ‘Damsel,’ restarting the cycle all over again.
‘Balada’ is definitely a winner of hearts; even upon the first listen. Thought-out, charming and adventurous — it is an anecdote worth delving into. Pastel Lite have set the bar high for future bands with visions of upholding the genre of dream pop; especially Malay dream pop. Whilst being experimental, it’s decisiveness in using algorithms to attract the mainstream manages to prove its worth in 38 minutes.
Written by Aida and Nabil