Polyvinyl Records, 2016
Review by Kent Manthie
Seattle-based Pillar Point are back with Marble Mouth, their second full-length album. If you happen to be an of Montreal fan, you’re going to like Pillar Point, which is really just an outlet for Scott Reitherman’s creativity and musicianship, as Scott is the only member.
Marble Mouth is the latest album by Pillar Point. It is a full-length, fun-filled, frenzied, frenetic, bacchanalian, circus after the fashion of the of Montreal school. On a previous tour, when Pillar Point was opening for of Montreal, one night between shows, Kevin invited Scott, who had been planning on recording this album at a Seattle-based studio, to come down to Athens, GA, instead, and record at Kevin’s own studio. Scott took him up on it and the result was that the two worked together on this album which, to die-hard of Montreal fans will, no doubt, have some similarities to oM: the vocals (I believe Kevin made an appearance on the album, singing some background vocals on a few of the tunes.
Don’t worry, however, it’s no carbon copy, though. There are plenty of differences as well. Enough to distinguish Pillar Point and not put them in the shadow of Barnes and Co. “Strange Brush”, for example, has a lush, danceable, pop flair to it, one that – and “Dove”: there’s another tune that really stands out as a funk-flavored dance number. It grooves to its own beat and the great thing is that you can’t say it sounds like “this band” or “that band”. Scott Reitherman has crafted a really fine work of art here, with Marble Mouth. “Lafayette” is another remarkable song worth mentioning: while, in the background, I can hear what sounds like a familiar “ooh-ooh ooh-ooh-ooh”, not unlike the 2009-era sound of of Montreal, there’s no way you could mistake Marble Mouth for Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer? or Skeletal Lamping. One other gem on here is “Gloomsday”, which, I’d say, comes as close as sounding like one of Kevin Barnes orgiastic spectacles as it gets. “Playtime”, now, there’s a different kind of electropiate atmospheric air to it. The slowed down beat has a tinge of something which really catches you’re attention and it just won’t let go, permeating whatever it is you’re doing; it cannot be ignored. The ethereal synthesizers, the French-like club glitter-glam just flows out of the speakers, continuing the spark which, at first, started out, hopping on the arm of Kevin Barnes, so to speak, but by the time you get to “Lafayette”, Pillar Point seems to have settled on their own two feet. The same goes for the rest of the album: “Gloomsday”, “Playtime” and “Underground”, which all have a great, infectious dance aura; a slinky, sexy and ethereal wondrous Pleasuredome Decree.
The finale, “Dance Like You Wanna Die” is a great way to close out the album; on this tune, Scott chills things out a little and, like a club’s closing minutes, serves to wind things down, while not bringing you down, rather, just popping a Valium in your mouth to give you that funky, warm feeling of bliss which, simultaneously, keeps you from crashing and burning after jumping and gyrating all night, sweating and screaming for more and makes you feel comfortable, feeling groovy, ready to go to your favorite after-hours place and finish the night.
What I’m trying to say here is that Marble Mouth really surprised me: with all Scott’s close association with Barnes, I half expected this to be somewhat derivative; picking and choosing things he’d absorbed from his time with of Montreal, both spent on the road and at Barnes’s studio. Instead, what I find is an exceptionally groovy album which has set its own course and only has a tiny bit of Kevin, filling in some of those distinct background vocals here and there. Otherwise, he left Scott alone to do what he wanted to do and to let Pillar Point grow and evolve into something unique, something stylish and something that has some incredibly indelible hooks. Whether you’re an of Montreal fan or have never heard them before, you’ll still appreciate Scott Reitherman’s Pillar Point and his new album, Marble Mouth. To find out more about the album and to order a copy, just go to this link: http://polyvinylrecords.com/marblemouth –KM