pastels/ tenniscoats two sunsets
    • MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2009

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    Two Sunsets is a collaboration album between Glaswegian twee veterans Pastels and the avant garde Japanese folk pop duo Tenniscoats, and a successful one at that. The album highlights both bands' signature sounds with an overall seamless facility, each song building into a pretty cohesive album of lilting, sugary tunes.

    Recorded in Scotland under the Pastel's Geographic Label, the collaboration began as the brainchild of Saya and Takashi Ueno of Tenniscoats. The two bands slowly recorded the sessions over a period of three years, usually when Tenniscoats where touring in the UK. Stephen Pastel described the genesis of the project on his blog, "I think Saya described the music as something like Pastels underneath, sounding beautiful like a big cloud, with Tenniscoats flying over ."

    Two Sunsets ambles slowly with a modest, dreamy flow. The tempos swell, flutes weave on tracks like "Mou Mou Rainbow" and the title track "Two Sunsets". Although the album often leans more towards the aesthetics of Tenniscoats, "Vivid Youth" jangles more to the sound of the characteristic Pastel sheen. The album also includes a cheerful and almost indistinguishable cover of Jesus and Mary Chain's "About You".

    "Song for a Friend" is a standout on the album and a shinning example of both bands leaving there induvidual imprints while swirling midair in harmony. The vocal duet between Saya's high sweetness and Stephen Pastel's wobbly baritone is delightful. The languid brass and mellow guitar twinkle around Pastel singing, Shadows are our memories .

    Two Sunsets vague weakness is its ability to fall out of focus at times and leisurely scatter. Songs like "Start Slowly So We Sound like a Locke" and "Hikoki" drift into an ephemeral haze, and the two instrumentals "Tokyo Glasgow" and "Modesty Piece", while lovely, feel unessential to the core of the project. Nonetheless, from the first blushing strum, Two Sunsets is an overall happy trip through fuzzy folk bliss that will certainly leave a pleasant feeling of balmy peace in any ear.-Amelia Trask

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