REVIEW: Pageantry - Influence

Raquel Dalarossa

Spring is a doozy of a season. It can be invitingly warm one day and frigidly cold the next, sunny and then suddenly rainy (or even snowy, if you’re a Bostoner). We navigate these months a little apprehensively but also appreciatively, taking notice as buds start to bloom, regardless of the volatile world around them. Even though each day is a surprise, spring somehow always feels soothing and rejuvenating.

When it to comes to music, spring calls for something just as versatile, and Pageantry’s full-length debut is the perfect match. Influence is a “pop-gaze” album that feels rousing yet laid back, hazy yet vividly picturesque—a sound that’s capable of complementing gray skies just as well as balmy temperatures.

Influence plays like one long dream sequence, mostly thanks to seamless, swift transitions between each of the nine tracks. And beyond the smaller details, there’s also a general effortlessness and elegant nuance to the band’s instrumental movements. Even when they abruptly switch gears—say, for example, from punchy and heavily percussive to totally relaxed and woozy in “Love to Lie”—they still manage to maintain a very natural flow, as though the band know exactly where their melodies need to go.

The three-piece band, made up of Roy Robertson on vocals, synth, and guitar, Ramon Muzquiz on percussion, and Pablo Burruli on bass, clearly work very well together. For those familiar with Robertson’s earlier solo work, which was notably praised and adored in his local area of Denton, TX, the polished and lush quality of Pageantry’s work is likely no surprise. Robertson’s been writing and producing his own music since roughly 2010, and Pageantry’s debut EP, Friends of the Year, came out in 2013 to similarly high praise. As a cumulation of all these efforts, Influence feels confident and accomplished.

Much of the album turns out to be back-and-forth instrumental jamming, which explains why their songs are generally lengthier than the norm (the shortest one here clocks in at barely under four minutes, but most hover near the five-, six-, and seven-minute marks). The instrumental work never approaches tediousness, though, thankfully; rather, it’s always engaging and graceful, as with the minute-long jam found at the end of “Teenage Crime Wave.” There’s a mellow ebb and flow to these tracks, with lots of synth and psychedelic effects mixed in that give off just a slight air of Tame Impala, but there are also more athletic, overtly pop-leaning tracks. “Caution” is certainly a highlight, with a hooky guitar riff that instantly appeals to the ear, and “Turquoise” is another catchy stand out.

Ultimately, there’s a whole lot to take in with Influence, but it all washes over you like a gentle wave of clear, glacial water. Just like spring itself, it’s an album that seems to reawaken your senses. When Robertson wails “The world is yours, when you ask it to be” (“Number One”), you start to get the feeling that the whole record is nudging you to do just that. Go ahead, ask it.