Pavo Pavo – Mystery Hour

Being in a band with your other half can often be hard work, but then keeping the band together after a split takes some doing, and that’s the scenario Brooklyn’s Pavo Pavo found themselves in before the recording of their second album ‘Mystery Hour’. Pavo Pavo’s two members, Oliver Hill and Eliza Bagg, have done a Fleetwood Mac/White Stripes breakup, where you keep the band going despite whatever personal turmoil you’re going through. Sometimes the emotions rise to the surface, yet Pavo Pavo manage to disguise the true sentiments in clever wordplay, which unless you’re aware of the background story you’d think it was just another love song, while additionally many of the songs on here reflect their changing relationship, moving from coupledom into a new era of friendship.

The dreamy orchestral arrangements on here work so well as both Oliver and Eliza are classically trained musicians, meeting up when in the same string quartet at Uni. Hill has arranged strings for the Dirty Projectors, whereas Bagg has worked with John Zorn.

Title track ‘Mystery Hour’ is a great combination of dreamy, orchestral strings, guitar fuzziness and brilliant vocal harmonies – the sound of two people in a relationship state of change, with swirling woozy melodies in the Slowdive vein with gorgeous male/female harmonies and a chorus of “mon cherie I’m designed to be unsatisfied” with strings sweeping the whole thing along. ‘Mon Cheri’ steals a cheeky “beep beep” from David Bowie’s “Fashion” against a backdrop of keyboards and electro riffs, whereas ‘Check The Weather’ has a Belle and Sebastian sounding delicateness.  ‘Around Part 1’ finds Beach Boys harmonies mixed with uplifting melodies which then morph into ‘Around Part 2’ which has gorgeous vocals, slow head-nodding beats, and even a vocoder – yes they’ve gone the full ELO! ‘Statue Is A Man Inside’ has woozy melodies, not a million miles away from Grandaddy’s highly inventive tunes, or Unknown Mortal Orchestra wrestling with Mercury Rev – it’s a huge, epic harmonious sound.  Sometimes the best songs come from heartbreak, and when the person you’re singing about is your bandmate, the emotional rollercoaster goes into overdrive. It makes Pavo Pavo’s second album such an intriguing listen, and combined with their delicately balanced melodies, ‘Mystery Hour’ is a stunning second effort from the Brooklyn based duo.

Mystery Hour – out now (Bella Union)

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From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.