Sun and Settled Days is the sophomore album of Pageants, a band comprised of romantic and musical partners Rebecca Coleman and Devin O’Brien. Coleman tackles the vocals, guitar, keyboards, and is the primary songwriter for the band; O’Brien handles bass, guitar, and drum programming. The album consists of 11 Californian indie-pop tracks and, as described by Coleman, grapples with the dreams and realities of growing up.
The album offers an interesting juxtaposition of sound versus content. Sonically, the album takes a Californian indie-pop approach. The sound evokes imagery of the groovy golden coast: beaches, sundresses, and the classic Volkswagen T1 Bus. Contrastingly, the lyrics and story-telling are not so bright or free-feeling.
The album opens with a relaxed beginning via the first song, “Just Tell Me.” Pageants eases the listener into their mellow sound and Coleman’s airy lilt. With a runtime of 2:09 minutes, and sonically using a slower beat than the songs to follow directly after, “Just Tell Me” serves as an effective opener. It’s not the stand-out on the album, but it’s not supposed to be. The track, which ends with the pleas of Coleman, invites the listener to venture further into the album. “Just Tell Me” acts as a guide meant to attract the listener rather than deliver the goods all up-front, an effective tactic.
The next song on the track-list is “All Bets Aside,” a faster-paced piece than its predecessor. Alone, “All Bets Aside” is a stand-out number. It’s a great showcase for Coleman’s writing chops with lyrics like “All bets aside, I’ll keep you in mind on the axis of the frozen tide.” Its placement within the album further heightens its might, the faster retro beat developing greater intrigue on what’s next.
However what’s next never really feels like a next. Rather than any clear musical transition, the next few songs feel like a monotone continuation instead of an arc. “It Might Be Crazy,” “Where Did The Time Go,” “Feeling” and “No Not Okay” are far from bad songs. What they most successfully do is feature Coleman’s lyric work (“Cruel intentions saved me/when you left me in the bottom” is a heck of a first lyric) and Pageants’ musical abilities.
But the novelty of “All Bets Aside” becomes murky as it joins a cluster of more of the same. The songs that follow “All Bets Aside” are too similar to it and each other. All that is left by track 6 is atmosphere or a sense of a feeling rather than direct emotional attachment to a particular piece.
The seventh song, “Please Hurry” is another album stand-out. Written by Coleman, the song expresses her unhappiness with O’Brien being gone on tour with the band Cherry Glazerr. Perhaps it’s because it has the shortest intro music out of all the tracks that come before which is why the song pops, or maybe it’s the opening lyric: “Dreams come to me/ tension rips open the seams that lie ahead.” Regardless of why “Please Hurry” differentiates itself from the cluster that precedes it.
If the album grapples with the dichotomy of dreams and reality and the anxieties and stresses that come with it, “Please Hurry” is the poster child for this theme. It keeps a quick beat but is the most distinctly melancholic out of the songs thus far. With this song, Pageants achieve a form of pop perfection.
“Worse” begins the album’s cool down. Three out of the four songs slow down the previously established quick energy—”Getting Real” is a short rehash of the beginning and middle portions of the album. Considering the album’s title, Sun and Settled Days, “Sun” implies daytime, and “Settled Days” indicates a time closer to sunset. Using this interpretation, an album arc can be finally be sketched. The parts before these last songs represent the daytime; “Worse,” “Stars” and “Give It Up” settle down for the sunset. The album eases the listener in, it also eases them out.
The album ends on “Give It Up.” The song is sonically upbeat and concludes Pageants’ album with a satisfactory end. Coleman sings, “Don’t wanna tell you again it’s just how come/You always listen to them?/Give it up.” Coleman’s self-acceptance of herself, although in one aspect depressing, is an oddly gratifying ending. It’s Coleman’s recognition of her personal flaws and traumas that perfectly comprises the “Settled Days” portion of the album title.
The lyrics simultaneously suggest that Coleman’s pursuer should accept who she is, and Coleman’s own acceptance implies some sort of peace or rest. Both parties have reached the settled day. What makes this song a great closing is that the end of one settled day means the rise of another sun, leaving the listener with a sly optimism.
Sun and Settled Days is a forceful breeze, an ideal summer album. Portions of the album risk sounding too similar, thus making it hard to pinpoint consistent individuality with each track. However, the atmosphere and overall vibe of the album are still cohesive and the sound is memorizing. In summer, when everyone wants to take it easy, an album memorable for its overall effect rather than individual songs is more than acceptable.
. “All Bets Aside”
. “Please Hurry”
Listen to Sun and Settled Days on Spotify.
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