Los Angeles-based quintet Skyline Pigeons dabble in a few different musical styles. Led by sisters Caroline and Roxanne Teti, they slide from laid-back dreampop into upbeat rock melodies and back several times, merely in the first half of their debut record. After bouncing around so much out of the gate, Skyline Pigeons’ House of Mysteries takes a while to find sure footing, but the listener’s patience is rewarded with a strong second half.
An organ gently hums under husky vocals and an undulating bass line in The Cycle, a ’50s pop-influenced number highlighted by a lead guitar that occasionally breaks away into suggestive licks and an extended, bluesy solo. With its muted power chords and upbeat harmonies, Get Up gets on like a Tegan and Sara anthem, particularly in the harmonized hooks. The record’s next few tracks follow in those patterns; they aren’t bad, but they’re not all that distinctive from acts who’ve done those styles better. House of Mysteries gains interest after its midpoint, once Teti, Teti & Co. really start to show a voice all their own. It gets a little bit looser here, the songs shuffling along at a more casual rhythm, with the two singers sounding more comfortable. Alright takes on a languid, sun-faded vibe, and Stardust Collector unwinds with charming lyrics equating love with space travel.
The emotional climax comes with a blast of hot, heavy psychedelic rock titled Fire She Blows. The Teti sisters attribute much of their inspiration for House of Mysteries to a devastating California wildfire that once took their home and destroyed all of their possessions. This song channels that experience into growling fuzz, organs, and husky half-chants. Lyrically, its sense of abstract menace (Hear that fire blow/ watch her grow/ nice and slow/ here she goes) conveys a genuine feeling of dread; it’s the most unchecked and honest track on the album.
Skyline Pigeons show promise when they relax their guard and let loose; chalk it up to rookie shakes, maybe. Hopefully their second album feels a bit less reserved.
Essential Songs: Alright, Stardust Collector, and Fire She Blows