Championed by Liam Gallagher and fresh from appearing on Soccer AM, Pastel channel the sound of Manchester on their brilliant second EP.
“These boys are absolutely top drawer…great lads, great band…it’s Pastel!”. These words by host John “Fenners” Fendley on last weekend's Sky Sports Saturday morning Soccer AM show were quite the introduction to the young band’s swaggering performance of new single ’S.O.H.O’. With the scene set for the Manchester band to blow us away over our morning cornflakes, they took little encouragement in doing exactly that.
The breathless opener to the football programme was so loud and frenetic, it was difficult not to be overcome by a sense of euphoric joy in its aftermath. And despite the lads firmly wearing their Manchester influences on their sleeves this was no tribute act - there was something so infectious about their breathless energy. Those unfamiliar with their music to this point couldn’t help but sit up and take notice. For the rest of us, Pastel had proved again why they were fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.
The name Pastel has been doing the rounds for the last year or two, in large part thanks to them becoming Liam Gallagher’s new favourite band. They opened for the former Oasis singer at his recent Knebworth Park show’s in June 2022 and they’ve slowly become favourites on the likes of 6Music and Radio X.
New EP Isaiah further justifies the hype and is the perfect taster ahead of next year’s debut album. Recorded with producer J. Fender, the frontman of Afflecks Palace (and head of both band’s record label, Spirit of Spike Island), the four-track collection is so short, sweet and dynamic, you’ll depart desperately searching for more of the band’s work.
‘Isaiah’ channels the spirit of A Storm In Heaven-era The Verve, a beautifully crafted track both shoegazey and ponderous. This is perhaps an odd choice to open up an extended play, but the music is so spine-tinglingly good you’ll be hanging on frontman Jack Yate’s every word, (“In this life that I suffer for / You’re on my time, get back to yours / You need to find the man who cures / In this life we suffer for” pleads Yates in the song’s conclusion). The mysterious guitars create an absolutely enthralling track.
Meanwhile, the above-mentioned ’S.O.H.O’ brings in the indie funk of The Stone Roses to create the brightest moment on the EP, whilst ‘Escape’ meanders in an entirely different direction altogether. The third track is a psychedelic mid-tempo delight, an acoustic guitar backdropping a dreamy lead guitar, exploding into life for a pulsating final minute.
Final track ‘Two Fools’ completes proceedings. Rhys Wheeler’s drums channels John Bonham’s famous ‘When the Levee Breaks’ intro from Led Zeppelin IV (1971) (kids, ask your parents) before a spacey track which features a fantastic build up to leave us on a euphoric high.
Over this twenty minutes EP, Pastel have done enough to whet our appetites further for next year’s debut album. The four tracks may have an abundance of groove and swagger, but there’s also plenty of heart and substance here too. Each track takes you in a new direction, be it trippy, dance floor friendly or melancholic, all the while still sounding distinctly Pastel.
“This EP feels like a step up, like we’re growing musically and expanding on our sound” reveals guitarist James Yates in an EP press release. “No other young British band is doing anything early as good” he expands. And who can deny their right to some confidence?
Manchester’s brightest new band aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel with their music, with doses of The Verve, The Stone Roses and The Charlatans heard through. Yet it doesn’t feel like a contradiction to suggest that the songs still sound fresh and exciting. Pastel’s city’s legacy is being dragged into the 2020’s with an infectious and warm sound which instantly demands attention. It did this perfectly on Saturday’s Soccer AM show and the more exposure they’re due will ultimately result in more and more catching the Pastel bug.