This article originally appeared in TechNews
Scott Reitherman is no stranger to the indie pop community. As frontman of Throw Me The Statue until that group’s departure in 2013, he’s already become a familiar face in his native Seattle and beyond, scoring a minor college radio hit with that band’s song “Lolita” in 2009. The success of the album Creaturesque earned Throw Me The Statue live session appearances on KEXP, Daytrotter, and more while touring, but the end of the group threatened to put an early cap on Reitherman’s promising musical career. But instead of losing energy without a formal lineup behind him, Reitherman has instead cloaked himself in the shroud of a new name and a retro-futuristic new sound: Pillar Point. The first sign of a departure from TMTS’s signature guitar pop came with Rietherman’s move from Secretly Canadian to Polyvinyl Records in 2014, which was followed quickly with the release of Pillar Point’s self-titled debut album, an upfront look at internal conflict drenched in layer upon layer of synthesizers and drum machines. And now, returning to perfect that formula, Pillar Point is back with their sophomore effort, Marble Mouth, which dropped on the 22nd.
Cynics may point to the rise of dance pop groups like Glass Animals and Sylvan Esso in recent years, and dismiss Pillar Point’s music as a simple market grab rather than a genuine effort by Reitherman to expand his musical horizons. Those cynics would be wrong. Marble Mouth is one of the most painstakingly constructed albums I’ve heard yet in the genre, and is certainly the most complex work of Reitherman’s career. The musician traveled to Athens, Georgia to record in the studio owned by of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes, a process that took a month to complete. After that, more recordings were made in New Orleans, another six full weeks of work. The result is a kaleidoscope of grooving, rhythmic electropop with backing contributions from members of Kishi Bashi and Washed Out, matching the concentration of works by Sun Airway and Animal Collective with the danceability of Jamie xx or LCD Soundsystem. At times the album has small signs of Kevin Barnes influence (most obvious on the Athens-themed track “Lafayette”, which includes Barnes’ unmistakable voice layered over itself as backing vocals), but Pillar Point’s general vibe is all its own.
Upon first listen, it might be easy to call Marble Mouth a “retro” pop work based on the sheer number of New Wave synth tones found inside. However, the warm and sunny production style of the album betrays its modern nature, a product of the 25 years passed since such tones were last considered purely dramatic tools. Additionally, Reitherman’s vocals are mixed in a different fashion than they ever were on TMTS’s LPs, taking on a similar R&B-influenced sheen to Twin Shadow’s first two albums. Pillar Point is an act much more suited to today’s independent music climate than any continuation of TMTS would have been, and Marble Mouth will likely be considered Reitherman’s most significant work to date within the next two years. That said, it’s important to note that Pillar Point is not an utter departure from Reitherman’s roots with TMTS. Perhaps an intentional nod to his past, the final song on this new album is a guitar and organ-driven affair, a signal that Pillar Point does not exist in a vacuum away from Reitherman’s history. It’s a stellar song in its own right, too, and proof that after all the electronics are peeled away, the man’s songwriting prowess still stands on its own. 8.7/10