A rewarding return from the idiosyncratic Indian duo...

Nischay Parekh and Jivraj Singh look like they’ve walked off a Wes Anderson set. Their sharp suits and deadpan expressions don’t give away much. However when you play their debut album ‘Ocean’ and its follow up ‘Science City’ you are ushered into an expansive and emotive world or glorious melodies, quirky electronics and stories filled with playful and eccentric characters.

‘Ocean’ was an album filled with stories about magical creatures and whimsy, ‘Science City’ channels the realm of science and a retro-future world of doctors, scientists and quantum mechanics who plan to unlock the secrets of the universe. As with ‘Ocean’ their brand of dream-pop is grandiose in scope and is easy to get lost in its delicate melodies and sci-fi synths. ‘Science City’ is full of airy compositions of love, loss and redemption.

These songs show a progression in Parekh & Singh’s songwriting. ‘Be Something’, ‘Sunbeam’ and ‘Forward Slash’ are filled with a heady optimism, but with lyrics like “Time is a waste of life”, “Life doesn’t really need a meaning”, “Paranoia is getting in your way, been plaguing you for days” and “I never agree with what you say, as I’m a dickhead” hint at an existential crisis bubbling along just under the surface.

And this is what Parekh & Singh do well. The juxtaposition of upbeat compositions and slightly and lyrics that hint at something is hard to ignore. Throughout ‘Ocean’ Parekh’s sonorous vocals were the main event, but here it’s all about the minimal backing tracks. On a first listen Singh’s drumming feels functionary, he’s keeping time and adding a few small fills, but on repeat listens you realise that he is a master of understatement. He doesn’t need to overplay to get the most out of the music. The more you listen the more you are drawn, and pulled, toward his gentle scattershot drumming.

The cover of ‘Ocean’ saw the dream-pop duo in pastel suits. These have been ditched for bold red ones. This isn’t just to make the visuals more striking. Science City’ is a bolder and braver album that sees Parekh & Singh pushing themselves lyrically and musically. Lyrically the songs feel very autobiographical and musical there are elements of prog and electronica seeping in. All of this suits the subject matter and give us a more rewarding, and enjoyable, listen than their debut.

7/10

Words: Nick Roseblade

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