Pill Wonder: Jungle/Surf EP Review
When musical historians look back at the year 2010 I am confident that amongst the prevailing influences of the annum, “drugs” and “tasty waves” will rank highly. I mean, if psychedelic beach pop was a deadly virus then we would be dealing with a serious epidemic right now. Even if the new Wavves, Best Coast, Beach Fossils, etc. don’t sound a ton alike, they all undoubtedly share a certain affectation for the fine art of the oceanside fiesta.
You can add Seattle band Pill Wonder to that esteemed list. The talented septet creates experimental blends of tropicalia, psychedelia, and rock – via the gauzy low-fi sound of the bedroom recording studio. And though Pill Wonder may be newbies to the scene, their sound already shows a huge amount of promise. The band was recently picked up by avant garde label Underwater Peoples , who have pushed their debut 12″ EP Jungle/Surf. to small but critical acclaim.
Throughout the length of Jungle/Surf Pill Wonder blend together a dense mixture of found sounds, psychedelic pop, and experimental clutter (their instruments include stuff like boxes of macaroni). They may base their music on pop hooks but they also do their damndest to bend, distort, and paint over them with a collage of noise. Songs like two of the EP’s most straightforward, “Fogg Eater” and “Gone To the Market,” display a talent for twisting up poppy tropical grooves along the lines of Spanish boundary pusher El Guincho. Though said grooves might take centerstage, each track is also dressed up in layers of reverb, samples, and pure distortion. “Family Vacation” sounds like three trippy psychedelic folk joints, laid one on top of another and then iced with a little happy crowd chatter. By far the most far out track, “What We Know” is pure jungle sounds over a catchy repetitious rhythm, sounding for all intents and purposes like Animal Planet on acid.
While the easiest name to throw out there to describe Pill Wonder’s sound is Animal Collective (particularly their lower-fi early stuff) there are other bands that should probably get a shout out as well, particularly the screamy weirdness of Japanther and the more world music leanings of Can. Pill Wonder though do a pretty good job of not sounding a like a complete rip-off of anyone in particular though – weird enough to be lumped in with the weirdos but not similar enough to any of them to be called a clone. Yeah, they druggy, experimental beach thing is really “hot” right now, but from the sound of it Pill Wonder have the chops to become more than just another band in the yearlong stoner beach party that is the current music zeitgeist.
— Jon Behm
Jungle/Surf is available for purchase here.
Pill Wonder: Myspace