Pavo Pavo

Mystery Hour

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Though some line-up changes followed their debut album (2016's Young Narrator in the Breakers), sentimental art rockers Pavo Pavo retained core members Oliver Hill and Eliza Bagg, and they return with a similarly retro-futuristic sound on their second set, Mystery Hour. Both descendants of Sgt. Pepper's in terms of their ambitious production, whimsy, and dedication to pop musicality where the band's debut was already wistful and heartfelt, Mystery Hour was written as the couple were ending a six-year relationship. The palette is still colorful and vibrant, especially on a track like "100 Years," which seems to draw inspiration from E.L.O. and the Beatles' most kaleidoscopic output -- clanking metal, spacy vintage keys, double-tracked guitar solo, weighty drum tones, and all. As on much of the album, Bagg and Hill both harmonize and trade lead vocals on the track. The more languid "The Other Half" opens with a breathy, melancholy sax solo befitting a noir film before harmonized vocals, light drums and bass, and floaty synth accompaniment take over. Later, the grandly cinematic "Statue Is a Man Inside" precedes the sparse, heartbroken closer "Goldenrod," a song that Hill sang in a lower key and pitch-shifted up on the demo so he wouldn't have to hear himself sing the words. After adding an Auto-Tuned Bagg on harmony, they decided to leave the recording in its otherworldly state, so even it has a heightened sonic quality. Acknowledging each song's off-balance allure in regards to unconventional song structure, arrangements, and production touches as they unfold, the album is catchy, sweet, and strangely comforting, even despite its sometimes pining lyrics (which are often mixed with more fanciful ones). Bringing emotional weight and measured playfulness to every song while maintaining a fascinating, cosmic soundscape, it's an album that lingers.