This album is impressive in its penchant for bright, punchy singles and hooks that keep you listening. His songs wrestle with the quality of his life, but know God’s dependability throughout.
Label: Self-released (www.pyramidpark.net)
Time: 12 tracks / 50 mins
You can tell when someone has innate musical ability and Pete McAllen (who is Pyramid Park) has got it.
You get an idea within seconds of starting this one, as the radio-friendly electro-pop of “Never Let Me Down” bursts into life, all bright and shiny. “Bright Heart” keeps up the momentum, an expansive piece propelled by driving bass and guitar stabs that could have been nicked from Duran Duran’s début.
Just as perky are the title track, which is quietly anthemic on the chorus, and “You Know/I Know,” its guitar work showing the admitted influence of Two Door Cinema Club. You can easily imagine a festival crowd joining in, arms aloft.
But he is no one trick pony and he can be just as effective in some fine slower material, as shown by the swaying soundscape of “Down Down” and the dreamy “Young”. I can also hear the clear influence of mid-era Future of Forestry – “Minor Land” could almost be straight off one of their Travel EPs, as could the chorus of the title track.
“This project feels like a bridge between Kingdom and culture,” McAllen claims, and he seems to take a Wildwood Kin approach, where the lyrics are connection points with his audience, sharing their weaknesses and pointing throughout to a deeper hope.
Eschewing bravado, his voice is rather light and everyday (often like Neil Tennant, giving some early tracks a Pet Shop Boys feel) and helping the listener to identify with his vulnerable lyrics.
God gets no specific mention, but people of faith can clearly see the whole album reflecting their lives, and the opener maintains “I was drowning in a cycle of doubt, trying to figure it out... From the start to the end I know this is real / You can never let me down.” More visually, the testimony song “Bright Heart” paints a Da Vinci image with “Your love is better than life. You reached out your hand from the highest of heavens/ You reach out where fingers collide.”
This works its way into many tracks, which all have a sense of purpose about them, whether dealing with bitterness, community or being honest with God.
A few later tracks feel more like filler, such as “Envy,” a thoughtful track that depends a bit too much on a slim hook, and “Surrender,” which dilutes the album rather than adding to it, but the album is impressive in its penchant for bright, punchy singles and hooks that keep you listening.
This collection marks McAllen diving into a full-time musical career. It also shows that he has what it takes to make it work.