'Pastel' – FRITZ [ALBUM REVIEW]
Updated: Mar 4, 2021
'Pastel' is the album you listen to when you don’t know if you’re having a bad day.
RELEASE DATE: 12 FEBRUARY 2021
GENRE: INDIE POP / TWEE POP / JANGLE POP / DREAM POP
Australian-based one-woman-band Tilly Murphy’s sophomore is an arsenal of fully-armed pop songs that walk the line between sad and satiated.
A far cry from FRITZ’s adorably indie DIY debut, Pastel has a dreamier more focused sonic palette that pays tribute to more recent acts. The walls of wailing guitars in the opening track 'Sweetie' is a nod to Belong-era The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and the sugary synthesizers of Arrow channels the spirit of Alvvays’ grungier sibling.
But under the shimmering dream pop patina are more eccentric subtleties. U Keep Me Alive brings autotune out of the hip hop arena and into the domain of bubble-gum jangles. Meanwhile, She’s Gonna Hate Me is blazing through its runtime with a barrage of straight beats. If it wasn’t for the sweet-and-sour guitar riff in the chorus, you’d be forgiven thinking she was covering Hüsker Dü.
We can also appreciate that FRITZ didn’t skimp out on the album experience. The shorter more instrumentally pared-down Gracie, Forgive Me, serves as a nice mid-album breather. Die Happily, with its slower tempo, brings home a more intimate atmosphere, winding down the final leg of the album. And almost by the book, the final song - Jan 1 - is the album’s longest and most ambitious, with a slow-burning one-minute intro crescendo-ing into the double-time drum-lines that we’ve become accustomed to at this point.
Though some might miss the imperfections of their debut, Pastel is undoubtedly the more refined album by almost every measure. Better mixed. Better performed. A masterful example of no-nonsense pop songwriting. However, it’s that very same commitment to a single vision that at times, makes the listening experience monotonous. If you’re a fan of Mac DeMarco’s mix-and-match approach to album making, it probably won’t bother you all that much. But if you come to Pastel hoping to find a fully-fledged cinematic narrative experience, the album is unlikely to deliver.
With these 10 tracks, FRITZ proves she has enough finesse with her instrument to cut it in the studio environment. And while that’s an achievement of itself, she has yet to turn the studio itself into her instrument. So though you won’t get much listening to the album in one sitting, you have to admit each song sounds damn good as part of your summer Spotify playlist.
Arrow, Jan 1, Die Happily
She’s Gonna Hate Me!