JUNE PASTEL: COLLAGES
Started in Salt Lake City and fleshed out in Baltimore, June Pastel is a band that has gone through it's own fair share of learning experiences. Such change is expressed on their debut album Collages, and what an appropriate name, as each track is it's own with unique textures and sounds that come together to create a larger work.
The noted topics sung of are those of affirmation and using knowledge from personal struggles to help the ones you love deal with their own. There's also a continuous, subtle message regarding the need to stay hopeful when confronting the future.
The majority of the songs were written while frontman and founder Anthony Peña was still living in SLC. They were finally realized in their fullness once he’d moved to Baltimore and established a full band (Sean McFarland on guitar, Troy Long on keyboard, John Murphy on bass, Kayin Scanterbury on drums). Taking into consideration such a major transition, each lyric that touches upon the anxiety that can come with the ever approaching unknown becomes much more real.
One of the songs that really stands out on this release also happens to have been one of the singles, “All to Come.” It moves with guitar parts that whine and waver, as Peña wonders “Stayed up wondering/Just what will happen/Days and months in time from now/Presents filled/The futures open.”
Aside from some songs that do border the lines of rock/pop, Collages as a whole is more of a collaboration of bedroom pop and jazz subtleties. Piano and saxophone fit themselves comfortably within hazy songs, while steady basslines and gentle percussion provide a solid foundation to hold up twinkling synth and Pena’s airy vocals.
Other songs that shine in their own, interesting way are “Embrace,” which feels like an interlude; an afterthought; a dream you wake from with a lingering in your brain, and “Hope of the Valley,” which is the continuation of the prior; it is the fleshing out of a leftover dream or an attempt at understanding it.
And that seems to be something encouraged on the album: an open mind towards understanding life and moving forward in it. Peña’s writing is that of an optimistic romantic rather than a hopeless one, and the instrumentals that carry his voice actualize the dreamy landscape that is Collages.