Porcelain People – Streetlights
First releases, in any genre, are seldom this good. Porcelain People are a duo compromised of Josh Thornhill and Fred Kalil. They hail from southern Louisiana and are serving up a particular brand of electro pop quite a bit unlike anything offered by their peers. Thornhill’s profoundly melodic and flexible voice matches up well with Kalil’s expansive and varied electronic textures. Piano, synthesizer, and keyboards are recorded with equal clarity and blended in quite an impressive way. No one component takes precedence in the mix and, instead, the duo have mixed the individual parts into a seamless and forceful whole. There are many highpoints scattered among the album’s thirteen songs, but there’s also no filler dragging things down. These are fully realized songs with imagination and technique working together in concert to produce the desired results.
The album is fairly divided between songs clearly cut in the electro pop style with a number of surprising twists thrown in for good measure. The duo establishes their primary mode with the first two entries on the album. The album’s title song and “Vital” are fashioned from a lightly anthemic cloth. Thornhill’s vocals are the most impressive element in each track and, on the latter tune, are joined by guest Jay Roc King. Guests on albums are frequently included with an eye towards the almighty dollar, but the handful of guest shots on Streetlights contribute a great deal to each selection. Songs like “Start It Over”, “Play in My Paradise”, and “Harlequin” take a distinctly different approach. These are far more artsy compositions than the aforementioned songs, but Porcelain People wisely never venture too far away from their core strengths. Instead, they show an added imaginative flair by simply elevating their relatively straightforward approach heard in songs like “Vital” to the level of high expressive art. “Start It Over”, in particular, stands out thanks to the throat shredding but painfully beautiful vocals from Stormie Edwards and its often surprisingly ominous musical backing.
There is a third grouping for songs on Streetlights and they dominate the album’s second half. “Feeling Like Falling”, “Help Me Know”, “Beating Hearts”, and “Undeniable” are highly catchy pop epics in miniature largely controlled by Thornhill’s vocals, but sporting a variety of unforgettable tempos and complementary musical backing. “Goodnight Is Not Goodbye” is a spectacular curtain closing climax for the album that somehow brings the three aforementioned styles together under one roof and without any rough contrast. “Lullaby” acts a sort of falling action for the sonic narrative, a peaceful but slightly moody reflection on all that’s come before replete with yet another fine melody and vocal.
Streetlights will stick with you. These are thirteen master classes in the importance of a great melody and the duo’s imagination seems to literally bloom with beautiful phrased musical lines. Porcelain People have tare talent and vision in a day when both qualities are at a decided premium.
9 out of 10 stars.