Seeing The Light with Electric Guest's New Album Plural
If you live in Southern California or you’re familiar with the KCRW radio station, at some point or another you’ve probably listened to Morning Becomes Eclectic hosted by Jason Bentley. Everyday from 9am to noon, LA traffic gets a little more bearable as our attention turns away from the idiot whose just cut us off, and we tune into whatever smorgasbord of musical delight Bentley has in store for us. Possessing an unparalleled aptitude for sourcing wildly original artists, Bentley exposes his listeners to “new releases from emerging and established artists, underappreciated gems, live performances, and interviews,” (KCRW). Over the years MBE has given me a music education that has tremendously diversified my listening tastes. One of my all time favorite bands Hiatus Kaiyote wouldn’t be in my life today if it weren’t for MBE. I should really send Jason Bentley a fruit basket or something. Granted…he’d probably prefer me to simply donate to the station—and after I finish writing this post I will. You understand what I mean—Bentley has his finger on the pulse of where music is going and where it’s been and I’m grateful for it. In many ways I would imagine it’s Bentley’s passion for sundry music that’s deputized him in sharing the best of it.
One such morning a few weeks ago, MBE introduced me to the LA based indie pop-rock band Electric Guest. Lead singer Asa Taccone and producing partner/band mate Matthew Compton released their debut album Mondo in 2012. After making the Late Night show rounds (Letterman, Fallon & Conan) and having their music featured on popular television shows like Girls and Teen Wolf, the band went back to the studio. Five years of getting-it-right has produced a successful composite of musical genres and styles that coalesce into the band’s second album Plural released in February 2017.
If voices had doppelgängers, Taccone’s could easily be mistaken for Garrett Borns of BORNS with slightly more base in the tone and a few softer hints of Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic. Like a pre-pubescent choirboy, Taccone’s vocal range flips effortlessly into falsetto. That’s not to say there isn’t any grit to be heard within his piercing tenor, it just depends on the song. Taccone has a talent for using his voice like a gas pedal—knowing the right moments to accelerate and when to let off and just cruise.
If you like bands like Tame Impala or Empire of the Sun who are known for using subtle electronic enhancements and haunting ethereal falsetto choruses, you’ll feel right at home with songs like “Dear To Me” and my absolute favorite track “See the Light.” When Taccone sings, “I’ve seen the light in you before, I see the light again,” it’s like listening to a spiritual hymn. The music is orchestrated prudently never using bells and whistles for bells and whistles sake. The album feels intentional and even though the majority of it is light hearted, you hear lyrics that strike a deeper chord. This is very evident in “Over” (a great break up song).
Sun is back again
After all you did to me
I thought that it was dead
Now I know my mind is on my side
'Cause I forgot most of everything you said
Only in the end
One of us has paid the weight
Closer to an answer that I know
Going backwards for a long time, so I know it's overdue
Over at last
Only the best
I don’t know if my gaydar predisposes me to hearing gay anthems and the divas that sing them with the acute sensitivity of a canine hearing a distant dog whistle being blown, but I swear the musical foundation of “Back & Forth” is a deconstructed version of Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out.” You know the part I’m talking about when the baseline beat: duh da-da-duh behind the lyrics “I’m coming out, I want the world to know, got to let it show,” kicks in. EG seems to have updated this classic guitar riff by using computerized Vocoder effects to make it their own. In fact the album is filled with retro embellishments. “Back For Me” sounds like it could have been a long lost track off The Beatles’ 1964 album Hard Day’s Night. It’s got that 60’s steady drumbeat and tinkling tambourine that defined classic rock in that era. “My Omen” also delivers a 60’s retro vibe with hallow blocks cracking against each other to create a percussive under current. It reminds me of an uplifting song The Monkees might’ve recorded while still sounding contemporary.
I have a feeling as the days get warmer and that summer sun starts calling for weekend getaways and sunroofs or convertible tops to remain in consistent retraction, Plural will be blasting through the speakers. It’s one of those “start to finish” albums that only requires you to press play and let it take care of the rest. I’d be surprised if after a few rounds of listening you won’t be humming the chorus to your fast favorites and loving the album as a whole.
Favorite Tracks: "See The Light," "Oh Devil," "Dear To Me," "Back & Forth," "Zero," "Over," "My Omen"