By Andy McFerren
Synesthesia is a condition where you experience one of your senses through another. The most common form of synesthesia is when a person sees certain sounds (music, voices, etc.) as colors. I am convinced that the reason Dad Bod named their sophomore album Pastels is that someone with synesthesia would only see pastel colors while listening to it.
This album has the ability to transport you back in time. A time of Volkswagen vans, peace signs, and exclamations of “Groovy!” – but the cool parts of that era. You could tell me that any song from this album was in Dazed and Confused or Almost Famous, and I would believe you 100%.
Something inside of me makes me want to quit my job and pull a Good Will Hunting when I listen to this album. Just get in a car and peace out. Go across the country in pursuit of something without telling a soul until Ben Affleck comes to my house only to find that no one’s home. But seriously this album is begging to be put into the cassette player of a car as you hit the road with the windows down and no place to go. Conversely, it’s also asking to be thrown on while you do nothing. Maybe partake in a certain substance and just chill with the intention of doing absolutely nothing. That is the duality of this record. That is the beauty of this record.
In addition to its duality, the album exhibits a broad range in both mood and sound. From the tender love song “Tenderness,” (pun fully intended) to the slightly heavier “All of My Life,” to the pensive “Jean,” all while maintaining a sweet groove throughout.
However, what really captivates you song after song isn’t the airy guitar or the smooth bass. It isn’t the perfectly curated synth or the soothing vocals that sound like someone just opened a can of Sprite. It is none of these things – yet all of these things – as they conspire together to create a hypnotic rhythm that remains the same yet constantly changes throughout. This gives the impression you’re on the most delightful rollercoaster ride, with enough twists and turns to keep you satisfied but not so much that you’re getting whiplash. By the end of the ride, you’re lucky it’s a slow day at the park and you can stay on for another round. Because this album is so inviting, you want to play it again and again until it becomes the subconscious, eternal soundtrack to your life.
The best example of this is the last song on the album, “Out of Order.” It is a succinct summary – a perfect encapsulation of the journey you just went on. As I listen to this track I see oranges and greens and browns in a never-ending, ever-evolving kaleidoscope. The soft, nearly spoken lyrics cut through the noise to resonate with my soul. My heart beats along to the slow drums, matching their changing cadence. And my body sways back and forth to the hum of the bass, fingers fidgeting rhythmically to the guitar and synth melodies, eyes closed. And for a brief moment in time, I am contently lost in my own brainwaves, not realizing the song finished until several minutes after the fact. And by the time I come to the realization that it’s over, I’m ready to go again.
This is normally the point in the review where the critiques roll in. But like Schmidt says to Nick Miller, “No notes!” I wouldn’t change a thing because “to me, you are perfect.” And now I’ve mentioned Love Actually in two of my three reviews for this magazine.
Make sure to follow Dad Bod on Instagram, and check out Pastels, including my favorite track, “Out of Order,” below. And don’t forget to check out their latest single, a cover of “Playground Love,” also out now.