10 Feb 2014

Pontiacs "Atacama Dreaming" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Busy Chilean psychedelic rockers Pontiacs (or should that be the Pontiacs?) create some lovely, visceral sounds on their newest album "Atacama Dreaming", combining a dreamy, hallucinogenic atmosphere with the direct, listener friendly tunesmithery of indie pop to create an album which deftly balances tuneful familiarity with more challenging and exploratory moments in just the right ratios to satisfy on both counts - think of Deerhunter / Atlas Sound's approach and you're on the right track.
Title track "Copper Hills (Atacama Dreaming)" is a great advertisement for the diversity on display here, with it's unpredictable tempo changes leading from a frantically busy prog-punk verse into a beautiful, mellotron laden half-speed chorus atop a lovely, glacial, descending guitar part that will melt you.
"Patagonia" on the other hand, is the band at their most direct and straightforward, but still manages to work in an excellent breakdown in lieu of a chorus (which actually does sound like the band has broken down), and some extremely appealing and archaic sounding vintage synth squiggles.
Hell, even when they try their hand at an acoustic campfire singalong on "After The Rainbow" it comes out all skewed and off-kilter.
"Atacama Dreaming" is a really satisfying listen. The pop pay-off to challenging noise ratio really makes the listener feel rewarded for the attention they're paying, and the two sides mesh seamlessly after a few listens to the point where you'll forget that parts of it were deeply confusing on a first listen anyway. Couple that with sleek indie-friendly production quality and you're left with an envelope pushing gem of an album that you can play to your friends who think they're too cool for genre music, without them even realizing they're listening to a psychedelic milestone.
Very nice.

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