With its abundance of samples and playful approach, Pearl Necklace's debut album, Soft Opening, often feels more akin to bedroom electronica than the minimal techno that it's been deemed. Bryce Hackford and Frank Lyon mined library music, forgotten disco albums, and, in the case of "Why Toto?," an Ingmar Bergman film, for the decidedly quirky sounds that populate these tracks. The duo's fondness for musical repurposing reflects a strong Matmos/Herbert influence, although their samples tend to provide textural decoration rather than song structures (a notable exception, however, is the bouncy standout "Doorbell"). Pearl Necklace do adhere to minimal techno's fondness for repetition, particularly on "Ah Ah" and the subtly propulsive seven-minute workout "Did You Feel It?," which is one of several tracks to feature the duo's champion Arp. Sometimes, the circular nature of songs like "Radio Love" feels more meandering than transporting, and in general, Pearl Necklace's tracks have a tendency to drift in, circle gently, and then drift out. They use this to their advantage on the aforementioned "Why Toto?," which floats, fizzes, and bubbles in a charmingly unhurried fashion, and on "Pearlfriend," which transforms a call and response between two simple melodies into something sweetly hypnotic. Occasionally, it feels like Pearl Necklace could do more with their music than they actually deliver, but Soft Opening reveals Hackford and Lyon have enough creativity in where they find their source material and how they use it to define their music more clearly in the future. As it stands, the album lives up to its name, offering a low-key but promising introduction to the duo's music.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares