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Album Review: Part Time – PDA

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Catfish, the eerie 2010 documentary from Henry Joost and brothers Ariel and Nev Schulman, defined the rise of online social media and explored mysterious, perverted aspects of Facebook, including fake profile creation, online relationships, and age misrepresentation. Part Time, the eccentric musical project of David Speck, relates stories redolent of the film that seem innocuous and adolescent, but are dispersed among bizarre lyrics and oddly familiar chord progressions that conjure up feelings of awkwardness and those unfortunate childhood memories of being the third wheel.

PDA is a nighttime record for young, “indie” lovers. It couldn’t be more aptly named; Speck croons musically public displays of affection throughout the album’s entirety. He sings about adolescent love, which can be a relatively distant feeling to some listeners, an ironic twist given the fact that some of the musical moments on PDA are impossibly familiar. “Night Drive”, the record’s most thematically focused track, features vocals and a guitar riff identical to those in Wild Nothing’s “Shadow”, from last year’s Nocturne. While both songs involve vague descriptions of romance and feelings of longing, “Night Drive” (and most of PDA’s tracks) lacks crisp choruses; there’s not much to remember, just a lot to take in and half-absorb for a few moments.

While the comparison fits intermittently, the lyrics and vocal delivery on “Living in the U.S.A.” are the record’s most Ariel Pink-esque. The track winks perfectly at psychedelic pop while keeping its distance from the overwhelming aspect that the theme of  teenage romance has become. That exploration wouldn’t be complete without Speck’s aching, Spanish love-tune, “Soñando de ti”; he’s dreaming of you, he needs your kisses (“necesito tus besos”), and he’s looking for you in the night (“yo te busco en la noche”). Is this genuinely or awkwardly sweet? Or neither?

Although a third ear may be necessary for PDA to feel fresh, don’t count Speck out on the topic of genre-twisting innovation. PDA is “affectionate pop” — an album with little to no heed about making you feel comfortable.

Essential Tracks: “Living in the U.S.A.”, “Night Drive”, and “Soñando de ti”

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