The French project Pastobal, started out as a duo and has grown into a small crew committed to serving their ideals. Dedicated to rock, folk and love, the group has two EP recordings under their belt – “My Head” released in 2014, and “EP# 2” released in 2016. The following year saw the band drop their full length trilingual album, entitled “Logon Calling”. Now in December 2018. Pastobal release their brand new, English-language EP, “Nature”. This new recording does an admirable job mixing the sounds of Pastobal to create a wide-ranging kaleidoscope of folk-rock references. The best songs have an infectious, building energy, as well as distinct, though familiar, points of view.
Pastobal is a band for those who like their folk served with a dose of sometimes cryptic and poetic lyrics, quirky riffs and thoughtful harmonies, rather than the loads of banjo and pop hooks that come from their peers and contemporaries. “Nature” showcases the musicianship and creativity that has seen them labelled the next big indie thing to come out of France.
The use of vocals, acoustic guitars, and strings all woven together is impressive, and there are just enough upbeat drums to keep the record rolling along. The upbeat opening track, “Did You Know?” speaks about how different species of animals work together to increase the quality of life.
The song has a full instrumentation arrangement that makes it sonically satisfying. A jangly acoustic guitar revs it up initially before being joined by driving percussion, bass and strings. The members of Pastobal fully throw themselves behind the music, and it is easily noticeable that there is something particularly unique about their sound.
The way the organic instruments expertly complement each other shows the band’s musicianship both collectively and individually. Pastobal has branched out to incorporate diverse elements into their music that distinguishes the band safely. This versatility could have lent itself to a disorganized EP, but instead the band has constructed a well-ordered album.
In its simplicity, “Do You Want?” is even more sprawling and adventurous than the opening track, reminding me a bit of early R.E.M. infused with a very slight Talking Heads flavor. Diversely “No Time” incorporates overdriven psychedelic guitars in its more aggressive and intense soundscape that is confrontational and angry, in essence.
“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone. Silence the pianos and with muffled drum. Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come,” are the epic opening lines of the poem by Wystan Hugh Auden, and the basis on which Pastobal construct the poignant song, “Funeral Blues”, which simultaneously desolating and uplifting.
“Funeral Blues” is absolutely gorgeous, and probably the best, most accessible track on the EP. It features a finger-picked guitar line, underscored by subtle bass counterpoints, excellent drumming and captivating vocals.
“Let’s Dance” exceeds in excess with more than 20 minutes of acid-styled funk driven by angular guitar riffs, thumping bass lines and busy percussion. It is undoubtedly the biggest musical departure the band take on the EP, and obviously a warning from Pastobal that they are not to be simply boxed into the folk-rock category.
With songs that are crafted meticulously, “Nature” succeeds in presenting its themes and sonic choices with remarkable clarity. It has both its rousing moments, as well as moments of quieter beauty. Moreover there seems to be more power in their music which benefits by the increased production values.
As an entry point for new listeners or something for existing fans to enjoy, there’s something on the “Nature” EP that any listener is sure to enjoy. The Pastobal crew currently consists of Pastobal (Music & Lyrics), Angus Schieber (Drum & Mix), Jehan Saison (Cello), Clo’B (Photo) and Stef Bimery (Englishman).