South Pacific – Constance

South Pacific

Rock music’s greatest talent is the ability to instantly summon up emotion with a couple of chords and a basic drumbeat. It is visceral, and the best musicians know how to cut to the quick most effectively. From …Trail of Dead’s all-out bleeding-throat assault, to David Byrne’s square-peg-in-a-round-hole anthems of discomfort, to Sleater-Kinney’s fist-pumping three-minute Molotov Cocktails, there is no denying that any of these bands – or any number of bands – incite immediate reactions, whether your tastes are inclined towards them or not.
And this is what is so surprising about South Pacific – they have the same viscerality, the same gut-yanking tangibility as the loudest and most desperate-sounding bands on the circuit, but their music is slow. And droning. And entirely instrumental.
The difference lies in how one listens to this album as opposed to, say, a Spoon album. I find that the album gets my attention the most when I let it surprise me; when I am writing something else, for example, and pause to think of an appropriate word. That’s when the band does their damage. The shuddering, gasping feedback that starts off “Stay Ahead, Far Behind,” the strident bassline that runs through “Parallel Lines,” or the ghost-vocals of “Built To Last” – they’ll all sneak up on you. And you’ll be glad – because once each song establishes its theme, you won’t want it to end. They are compact soundtracks to car rides and rain over cities, and so perfectly encapsulate these scenes that you need to pause to mull it over. And did I mention that there are few tracks between which the sound stops entirely? It might take a minute to realize that one song has stopped (“Parallel Lines”) and another has started (“E10 @ 182”). This only adds to the effect of the album – sometimes it feels like a piece with movements, instead of an album with songs.
As such, it’s hard to critique individual songs. They don’t differentiate in structure much from one to another, and there’s no song which sticks out from the rest as being particularly better or worse, with the possible exception of the yawning, rhythm-less “Pintail Gate,” which outstays its welcome after two and a half minutes. It’s an album you should really take in all at once, during downtime, that you should let slip in between the cracks, and take in subconsciously. If you don’t need to have a band shove its riffs and hooks in your face all the time – and I’d wager that few of you really do – you’ll find this album immensely rewarding.