Pepper Rabbit, Beauregard
More than anything else, I find myself wanting to point over to fellow gentle indie-folksters Fleet Foxes each time I run through Pepper Rabbit’s debut release, Beauregard; the music made by both bands unfolds slowly and deliberately, warm as a blanket yet still seemingly fragile and shy, hiding away in the back corner of the room while it plays. Both are sweet and poppy but still decidedly rural-sounding.
That comparison does something of a disservice to Pepper Rabbit, however, because while the band may indeed resemble Fleet Foxes on the surface, Beauregard is a different animal entirely under the skin. There’s a heavy, hazy psych-pop thread running throughout the album, from the murky melancholy of opener “Clarinet Song” through the whoo-ooh-oohs of “Older Brother” and the off-in-the-distance backing vocals of “None Shall Sleep.”
“In the Spirit of Beauregard” showcases the band’s quirks best, I think, immediately stepping in with an intricate, nearly baroque arrangement that the band members marry to these crazy descending melodies that sound like sinister carnival music more than anything else. Frontman Xander Singh’s vocals make me think of Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, albeit more plaintive and warbly, and they wrap around your ears and hold on loosely as the song rolls on. Then the music sweeps upwards majestically, and holy shit, it’s The Polyphonic Spree gone Appalachia.
The bulk of the album rides the same theme, taking backwoodsy instrumentation (see the old-timey-sounding “Harvest Moon,” which I think includes both a mandolin and a ukulele) and country-boy vocals and strapping them into an acid-fueled rocket into space. Even on the sneakily-named “Song for a Pump Organ,” the band touches that stratospheric territory inhabited by Spiritualized circa Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space.
Sure, it’s folky, but it’s heavy-lidded, woozy folk playing in front of a huge bank of effects pedals and synths. Think a sunbaked, alternate-universe version of the aforementioned Fleet Foxes, splayed out blissfully on the muddy ground as the colors spiral over ’em in the skies, and yeah, you’ll be nearby, at least.