alt rock Alt-Pop alternative indie rock review rock surf rock synth rock

Pi Ja Ma – Nice To Meet U Review

Parisian surfer rock?

Parisian alt-pop lady Pi Ja Ma has racked up several million streams from her debut EP in 2017 and now with her debut album ‘Nice To Meet U’, her brand of French tinged pop-rock shines.

As with many things Parisian there’s a timeless out of trend dreamy quality to Pi Ja Ma’s music. Opener ‘Pixies, Sylphs and Faeries’ encases this 60’s vibe with retro sounding drums, pointed country twanged guitars but with a modern day pop melody. It’s the mash up of these things trends that set the album apart from many others as Pi Ja Ma’s smooth voice croons over the top. ‘I Hate U’ pushes towards dramatic shoop-shoop pop with escalating guitar riffs and vintage string sections smothering vintage organs. It’s both catchy and full of life. ‘Ponytail’ mixes Caribbean beats with dance synths and 60’s rock strings. It’s outwardly joyous and bursting with smiles even if the lyrics themselves showcase a cleverly naive underlying panic.

Pi Ja Ma

Vertigo’ moves towards the synth side of Pi Ja Ma’s sound spectrum as she plays a new wave / Tuneyards-esque cross over, whereas ‘Radio Girl’ plays with that rose-tinted 60’s surfer rock vibe with plenty of radio effects thrown in to do octopus dance moves to. Most of the album has a vibe to it which my mum refers to as ‘the ice cream lady at the cinema from the 70s charging around the isle music’. It’s part surfer rock in its guitar hooks and gritty feel, part Parisian rock in how everything has a watery flow to it (particularly the percussion which is always rolling and swaying) and restrained.

A couple of tracks do pull away from the formula though. ‘By The River’ the token ballad on the album, although even that track builds up to a crescendo of rolling drums and guitar chords. The part instrumental ‘Family’ is like a bossa nova dance track made by Juana Molina. It’s really out there and full of creative sounds and mash ups – it’s my favourite track on the album. The closing track ‘Sugar Sugar’ is created like a mermaid paradise with lush flutes, layered backing vocals that remind me of Kadhja Bonet’s style of funky soul jazz and beautiful acoustic percussion that reminds me of fellow French songwriter Raoul Vignal.

Pi Ja Ma’s mash up of vintage 60’s surfer rock, 80’s new wave tendencies and today’s pop and rock technology makes for an irresistibly heady concoction. As a completely new listener, I was hooked in immediately and found myself coming back to this album again and again – particularly when travelling. Highly recommended.

Recommended track: I Hate U

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Pi Ja Ma - Nice To Meet U


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