• Sat, Sep 19, 2020
Reviews

PA System Makes A Safe Start With Debut EP

6.0

album Reviews Sep 05, 01:15pm

‘On Days Like This’, if a bit tame, provides some nice moments

Chennai has produced some great bands (Skrat fans, unite) and the scene has dipped its toes in many genres. Of late, softer sounds and pop-leaning influences have been prevalent in the music coming out of India’s sweatiest city; five-piece pop-adjacent band PA System are the latest entrants into this space. The fact that ‘On Days Like This’ has three decent tracks, is emotionally available and their debut offering is more than commendable.

The five members of the band don’t plaster their individual roles all over the music here; in fact, if you didn’t know that, you wouldn’t instantly pick it out. The overall structure of things is your standard band setup; vocals, keys, guitars, bass, drums. While the overall sound of the band is clean and evocative, it does feel like they will experiment far more with the tools they have in future releases. For now, the aim is just to write solid material, and there’s no fault in that. There are no particular quirks or oddities in the mix or musical palate used here; the rhythm section is fine, the vocals are relatively clean and in the agreeable range most pop tends to be, and pianos or keys add a little flavour. Except for a slightly squished mix, there will be nothing that will catch your ear here.

The three tracks that comprise ‘On Days Like This’ channel the band’s influences quite clearly, which is actually a good way for a new band to get a footing on a new release. Not everyone can make ‘An Awesome Wave’ or something on their debut, so to lean on familiar sounds and songwriting styles actually helps PA System sound accessible. Opening track ‘Save Me’ is very much in the indie ballad mold; 6/8 time, love, pianos, you get the drill. There are opportunities to blow everything open and give songs more variation and character, but they choose to keep it very simple. That being said, you can absolutely sing along to every single second of the EP. The band cites Coldplay as a shared influence, and the remaining two tracks here really show it coming to the fore. It’s quite specific in the elements used on ‘She’ for example. This song could have landed on a ‘X&Y’ bonus tracks EP and there’s a good chance you wouldn’t have noticed anything amiss. The surprisingly great basslines, the hints of strings, the long and drawn out vocal melodies, the slightly off-kilter drums that especially ‘Parachutes’ had a lot of (man, what an album) and the clean guitars are all reminiscent of that sound. The band do a good job of having good melodies and solid songwriting, though, so it doesn’t sound completely derivative like a cover. The closing track ‘Fair Weathered’ is equally nice to listen to. This track has easily the most catchy melodies and choruses on the EP; the chord progression is stellar and the pianos are the quiet centerpiece of the whole thing. The band even throws in a feels-y, hushed outro that bookends the EP rather nicely.

 

 

PA System is just starting out, and for that, ‘On Days Like This’ is a good effort. There’s potential and talent here that is obvious to anyone. With time, the band will move away from directly channeling their influences and make their own way. Of course, if one looks at this EP without factoring anything else in, it does sound very derivative and middle-of-the-road. The band doesn’t take any risks and possibly stays in their comfort zone too much, which leads to it all being a bit one-note. But to look at the EP in a bubble is imprudent; all things considered, PA System is off to a good start.

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