Smacked in the Face by Talent
Pillowfight’s self titled debut album brings together super-producer Dan the Automator, vocalist/multi-instrumental Emily Wells, DJ extraordinaire Kid Koala, and Bay Area rapper Lateef the Truthspeaker with breathtaking results. Wells’s voice floats over Dan’s and Kid Koala’s musical soundscapes like a hang glider drifting through the clouds. Lateef contributes backing vocals and a verse here and there adding a lovely contrast to Wells’s angelic hymns.
“Used to Think” starts off the album and couldn’t have been a better introduction to the tracks that follow. It gives the listener a sample of the musical smorgasbord that these artists have prepared for us. “In the Afternoon” follows in its predecessors’ footsteps, but this time Kid Koala adds a little more to the flavor. One would expect that too many cooks would spoil the broth, but in this case that old saying definitely doesn’t apply.
The songs represented on this album all share a common feel. Emily’s voice filled with emotion crooning, slow tempo beats accompanied by strings, horns, pianos and other lush instruments. The lone blemish on Pillowfight is track 7, “Get Down.” The whole world the listener has been transported to suddenly starts to melt away and one is left stranded in the middle of a discotheque. Emily’s voice suddenly sounds like a formulaic anonymous pop singer lamenting over a repetitive bass line. Then Lateef the Truthspeaker morphs into generic ’80s sounding amateur rapper. Fortunately, after almost four minutes of this atrocity the music stops and we are suddenly swooped back to the haven the other 11 tracks assembled for us.
Pillowfight has done what many have tried to do numerous times and failed. Take a handful of established talented artists, have them collaborate, and in the end create something unique and beautiful. This album may never quite gain worldwide recognition and it’s a shame. Each song on this album is wonderfully crafted and deserves to be heard, except track 7. Heed my advice, skip track 7.