Apropos of nothing, my friends became enamored with a diner in town called The Very Best, which meant that they dragged us down there every loose afternoon to talk, study, and read. It was unclear, even after I spent what amounted to whole days there, whether or not the diner’s name was intended as assurance for the customers, or more as a reflexive shot in the arm for the owners. The diner had a flat, sad façade, all faded glass and thick paint, and it sat between two vacant storefronts, one of which still had a ghostly marquee that read ‘Forever Appliances,’ that struck me then as subtly heartbreaking. To get to the diner, we had to descend from the school, down a flight of maroon stone steps, to High Street, the town’s main thoroughfare, and then walk five precarious blocks, in tight formation, to the long, forlorn shopping center that housed our little hotspot. On our way, we passed shuttered coffeeshops and luncheonettes, slick hairdesseries, a fenced-in tool and die, and several off-brand department stores, not to mention ambling packs of male and female street toughs, and flocks of pensive stoop-sitters. High Street, as we knew, was the definitive border between town and gown. When we finally arrived at the diner, and had installed ourselves in one of the high-backed wooden booths, we were usually all flush-cheeked, windblown, and hungry. This was the time for talking.
Before this year, Paradis had already released 4 classic songs, and now, in gearing up for their LP (which will presumably come out sometime next year), they released Garde Le Pour Toi (in June) and they've just released Sur Une Chanson En Français--both are incredible and continue their perfect run. Garde Le Pour Toi, though, might be the best statement of Paradis' aesthetic yet--it's at once melancholic and downbeat and kinetic and neon-bright, somehow. It's that division of labor between the sweet, sorry vocals and the blazing hot synths and percussion. This is one of my favorite songs released in 2014--not just for the craft of it, the willingness to push the music into ever more frantically active modes, but also for the band's dedication to making conistent stylistic collateral to accompany their songs (with their videos, their artwork, photos, etc.)--I get the feeling that Simon Mény and Pierre Rousseau are communicating a complete sort of 'world' with what they do, one that's like a futurist noir, a place of alleys, fog, smoke, midnight, spilled drinks, and despairing glances.
Pas/Cal produced more highly catchy songs than bands that were around for twice as long, and there is a high degree of, I don't know, stickiness to their songs as well. All I have to do is think of the title of "We Made Our Way, We Amtrakked," and the song will play in my head, beginning to end, as though I had a whole quadrant/lobe devoted to its preservation. This band could write some tunes! And Casimer Pascal has such a beautiful voice, all sighing ephemerality. Dear Sir, the title track of the band's last EP, is a little more muscular than what they'd done before, but it's a nice showcase for their vibe-work, they way they can keep something sinister and upbeat at the same time. Wake Up Wake Up Wake Up is a tiny song, so short, but totally enchanting, quiet, rising, an exhortation by the bedside. Handbag Memoirs is one of my favorite songs of theirs, and it has to be one of the best about the kind of ex post facto jealousy one might feel when thinking about a significant other's past (where they were and what they did before they met you). And Last Christmas is a pretty and generous reworking of the awesome Wham song, which is a stone-cold classic, but Pas/Cal stretch it out, have fun with it. Casimer is still making music--not with Pas/Cal, but with his nephew Casimir as Casimer and Casimir.
You could potentially imagine a song like Fault Lines if you were given instructions to place yourself within the general sonic overlap between early Junior Boys and solo Thom Yorke--though it's important to note that you'd still be surprised by this song, by how it opens up and expands partway through. Look, Beacon is here to entertain, to divert, to connect. And they succeed. Good December music, this deserves an audience of merry-makers.