By the time Xander Singh and Luc Laurent of the Los Angeles-based Pepper Rabbit released their debut album Beauregard in October 2010, the duo had already developed an organic underground buzz for their youthful, kaleidoscopic dream-pop. Written across two continents (the band’s early shows took place in India, where Singh’s parents were living) and recorded in New Orleans, Beauregard is a collage of sound where loop pedals and various effects are utilized to pull together instruments as varied as ukuleles, horns, accordions and keyboards.
On Beauregard, Pepper Rabbit seek to bring the listener to a simpler time and place, but effectively create a new, curiously mysterious world of its own. This is evident as musical styles of past and present converge from the old-timey waltz of “Harvest Moon,” to the plucky strings of “Snowwalker,” to the carnival atmosphere of “Babbette!” It is a pleasant fantasy, but sometimes the sweetest dreams are the easiest to get lost in and unwittingly become little more than faint memories upon waking. Pepper Rabbit have the tools and the skill to prevent this from happening, but nonetheless, the record turns stagnant among copious amounts of echo-laden vocals and similarly lullaby-paced melodies. In the process, tracks like the doleful “Song for a Pump Organ,” and Flaming Lips-influenced “Red Wine,” become tiresome listens, and it becomes easy to overlook their otherwise luscious qualities while the minutes tick by.
“Older Brother,” a heartfelt tale of making amends with a friend’s death, and the first single from the album shows the band at it’s best. Perhaps the sheer emotion behind the song forces the band to ground itself, if just for a few minutes. It’s catchy choruses and sentimental, yet straightforward delivery gives it a crossover appeal well beyond its current indie-oriented audience. The casually lo-fi pop-rock of “Send in the Horses” closes out the album on a particularly high note.
Beauregard largely gives the impression that its creators are a bit too self-conscious to let much of their music breathe on its own. Still, given the ambitious nature of their debut album, it will be exciting to see what Pepper Rabbit have up their sleeves in the future.
Listen: Pepper Rabbit – MySpace