• Thu, Feb 29, 2024

PCRC Drop More Obscure, Introspective New Album- Bismillah


album Reviews Jun 17, 12:16pm

This one’s for the real fans, man.  
 Photo Courtesy: Peter Cat Recording Co.

PCRC hit the big time with their excellent 2016 release ‘Portrait Of A Time’, which had the old-school flair and nostalgic tones the band is known for. That album had a direct, almost bare style of songwriting that instantly arrested you and demanded your attention. Well, it is 2019 now, and the band doesn’t seem to be bothered all that much to fill their new album ‘Bismillah’ with bangers or pull you in with a bunch of hooks. This is a personal, off-the-wall and very inward-looking album; you can live in their world if (and clearly only if) you have the patience and the belief that your time will be justified. And in that sense, it’s a great effort.
Possibly the most obvious thing that has been retained from previous music is (obviously) the sound of the thing. This album sounds gorgeous, and almost King Krule-like in places. Vocalist Suryakant Sawnhey still sounds like a crazy mixture of Lee Fields and Sam Herring, and his brooding, forlorn singing dominates most of the album. There are a ton of vintage synths and funhouse keys (that’s really coming back into fashion, isn’t it?) that give the songs a sepia-toned nostalgia which adds to the sadness and loneliness of the ten songs on here (we’ll get on to that in a minute.) And for the tracks on the album that open up a bit, there are solid, full-sounding grooves from Karan Singh on drums and Dhruv Bhola. Gupt Rohit’s horns are used far more texturally here than before, even though they are sometimes in full force as a proper melodic hook (like the groovy-as-f ‘Remain In Me’ and ‘Floated By’, easily the most accessible song on ‘Bismillah’.) Combine this with a high-quality, punchy mix and you have an album that you can definitely play all the way through whether you like the songs or not. And there are possibilities of both the former and the latter.



The main aspect of the songwriting is that many of the tracks overstay their welcome, at times by whole minutes. The musical idea behind them is pretty simple and fresh by itself; old-school blues grooves dragged through synth-pop, grunge and new-wave to have something that’s emotionally heavy and brings back images of black-and-white movies and dusty ballroom dances. And there are so many times the band gets it absolutely spot on. ‘Soulless Friends’ is an incredibly groovy and catchy song which shows everything the band has to offer; simple piano, classic clean reverb-y rhythm guitar, some delightfully atmospheric bass and synth and the most chill and fun chorus on the entire album. This is the band firing on all cylinders and it’s fantastic. ‘Floated By’ is also a banger, and the horn melody on the chorus only makes things better. The synth bass in the verse is also one of the coolest touches on the album; easily head-nodding material. The subject matter across the album is in line with the sound of the instruments; continuously looking back because the present is all confusion and things not worth thinking about. ‘Heera’ is a classic Ringo Starr groove over a sad guitar line and a vocal delivery that sounds more like a funeral song than a rock hit. Suryakant is singing about loss and how he has nothing more to give, and the song is a nice vehicle for exactly that. I could see this landing on a TV show soundtrack at some point. ‘Remain In Me’ is an exploration of art-pop and grunge, and it works excellently. ‘Shit I’m Dreaming’ is a great closer to the album and sums up what PCRC are trying to do, with a ton of texture and silence testing your patience and emotions. Almost nothing happens except some mood-inducing synths and reverb-soaked vocals for a whole 4 minutes, after which you are finally rewarded with what sounds like an explosion of everything happy in the world; huge synth, big horns, propelling groove. But it all cuts off after just a minute of euphoria, which somehow makes sense in the context of the album.


But for all its awesomeness, that same old problem of the band overstaying their welcome still plagues the album. ‘Memory Box’, for example, is an amazing track conceptually that undoes its own hard work just by virtue of its unnecessary length. It’s a layered, sample-based groove with a shuffling beat that elevates everything about it. The samples of what sound like 80s movie-soundtrack strings and the disco vibe of the song are amazing, for the first half of the song. After that, well, not much else happens. Somehow, the droning samples and the non-progressiveness of the track take you out of the moment and suddenly the same melody that blew your mind just 3 minutes earlier is now getting on your nerves. Opener ‘Where The Money Flows’ fails in part to do what the closer ‘Shit I’m Dreaming’ does successfully. It’s the most modern-sounding track on ‘Bismillah’, with the autotune and the hip-hop grooves, but for some reason it never earns the ideas the band want to give it. It just sounds a bit lost. ‘Vishnu <3’ deserves credit for its patience and unwillingness to compromise on time, but it does slow down a bit too much. The last third of the track is pretty cool with its 8-bit snare and groovy bassline, but it sounds more like a idea that’s been duct-taped onto the end of some interlude. ‘Freezing’ suffers from the opposite problem, where it feels like the song hasn’t been given enough time to develop and thus ends up being another incomplete interlude instead of a full track.



At the end of the day, ‘Bismillah’ is an album of two halves. There are the times where PCRC nail it and get every element right, and it’s amazing to hear. There isn’t music like this being made in the country right now, and they are blazing a trail that other bands simply aren’t finding the inspiration to follow. It also helps that they’re incredibly talented. But there are also times when the band errs on the side of caution or freedom, and then it does sound loose and a bit disjointed. But do remember; it is possible to nit-pick only because ‘Bismillah’ is such a fully realised project in the first place.


Listen to the album Bismillah


Watch the music video of "Where The Money Flows" below:




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