The stretch of Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu to Santa Monica embodies the great dualism of Southern California. Warm breezes through cracked car windows, the soft sound of waves crashing and receding into the Pacific, and the silhouette of Los Angeles are beautiful in a timeless, almost dreamlike sort of way. However, those who haven’t stuck around long enough often fail to notice the effects of erosion; buildings and signs that line the coast are faded and rusty from the salt air, evoking feelings of loneliness and emptiness. Primaveras’ debut LP, Echoes in the Well of Being, also embodies this dualism. Channeling various sonic aspects of the past to create something unmistakably of the present, songwriter/brainchild James Clifford creates psych-pop songs that are equally bright and sunny as they are full of longing and introspection. For example, ‘Can’t Undo My Love’ begins like a lazy diary entry written on a beach towel before reaching euphoric heights by way of a falsetto-layered hook. Conversely, the groove of ‘Better Off’ struts like a half-drunken walk out of a noisy dive bar, only to confront one’s feelings in the night air behind a backdrop of moving cars and neon lights.
Side B kicks off with the motor city riffage of ‘In the Lilacs,’ which showcases Clifford’s ability to tastefully weave various musical elements into something coherent and fluid. In fact, the record at times can feel like a journey through the evolution of pop music from the second half of the 20th century—60’s pop-inspired melodies are complemented by 70’s guitar licks and early 80’s synth lines, which makes for a listening experience that is somewhere between Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii and Chic’s second album. Side B’s penultimate track, ‘Send Me an Angel,’ is an acoustic and vulnerable palette cleanser before the rock ‘n roll excess of ‘Before You Say Goodbye,’ which ends like the final parade in Animal House—joy and bombast riddled with bits of truth about the human condition. Whether one takes the Coast Highway out of the city or into it, Primaveras’ debut record is the perfect soundtrack for a blissful escape.
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