Pepper Rabbit at the Fox Theater Pomona – Photo by Will Tee Yang
While listening to the dreamy duo Pepper Rabbit’s sophomore album, Red Velevet Snowball, you’re transported to a sunny, simple time. Originally from New Orleans, frontman Xander Singh and drummer Luc Laurent fully deliver with this concept album. Red Velvet Snowball has a musical freedom and an almost back-to-the-basics kind of mentality that clearly comes across in each track. Although the instrumentals are far from basic, with a total of 11 instruments, the sound is rich and thick with clarinets, banjos, synths and ukuleles.
Differing from their first album Beauregard, the production has been stripped down. Recorded in a “barn yard” studio, this collection feels as free and oblivious as I believe they intended.
From the moment the first track starts the instruments gush of endorphins. You don’t want the feeling to cease, and thankfully it doesn’t – from the first trill to the last groan these quintessential Silver Lake indie rockers lead you down a winding road to blissful seclusion.
They choose to seek a simpler sound, less generational and more timeless. It’s a task to take a listener to a place where they aren’t relating the music to any person, place or thing, yet at moments I found myself lost in the sound – thoughtless and happy. Dream-pop mixed with a twang of psychedelic folk, the sound is romantic … that is if your idea of romance is popping a couple tabs of good old LSD and taking a long drive in the country.
I see long white dresses and tall wheat fields, I feel a little awestruck and a lot dazed. With all of this idyllic happiness it’s shocking to feel the tug of doe-eyed melancholy, but it’s there, dragging and distant an almost empty gape. Here is when the trip turns sour. When the sun is still shining but your fear is very much alive, the undertow of methodical drums shifts your feelings, keeping you wrapped tight in that infantile blanket of bliss, the carousel gallop of wonky wails knocks you unsteady in the best possible way.
The lyrics are simple, repetitive and mirthless, filled with ohs and ahs of brokenhearted surrender that borders on hopeful. This pair does well with straddling that line both rhythmically and vocally. If you’re looking for a pity party filled with warm lows and bitter highs, look no further. The perfect companion for your wounded blues, Singh’s vocals lackadaisically zigzag and jeer. The staggering keys combine with vocals to create a full-bodied flavor pleasing to the ear. Its raw production feels a tad like what you would expect to hear in a Hindu Temple. As intricately arranged as it is, the melody doesn’t ever feel stuffy or overdone, nor do the abundance of instruments feel cluttered. In fact, the jumble almost forms a white noise of sorts, magically washing over you and leaving you hypnotized.
Compared to their last album, Red Velvet Snowball feels less grownup, like the difference between a sketch and a finger painting. In my humble opinion Pepper Rabbit succeeds, creating an album that gives you all the raw joy one could ask for.
Words: Jasmine Richelle Flower
Artist: Pepper Rabbit
Album: Red Velvet Snowball
Release date: August 9, 2011