As summer rolls around, many of us update our playlists to include lighter tracks that evoke, if not always joy, then at least warm feelings that don’t clash with the summer potato salad. Pezzettino’s latest EP Venus possesses this summer lightness, if also a melancholic quality that may make it better listening for early fall. Through sections of both joy and sadness, where Venus excels most is in its detailed instrumentation. The layering of guitar and piano on “Quake” reminds one of an easy conversation as both instruments effortlessly fall into the other’s silences. In “From a Window, Big Sur,” a steady piano grounds a section of more freely played violins that in one instant moan like whales and in the next flit like kites. Several tracks feature guitar interludes that add both variety and a welcome roughness to the EP’s overall shimmer.
It was in contrast with these effortless instrumentals that I then became so surprised by Pezzettino’s voice. As I listened to it, I was reminded of certain friends who, though not musicians, do “sing a little.” Often flatly delivered, the vocals sit far out in the mix and give the resulting impression they are unsupported. This sonic isolation has its uses; the fragility and urgency of Pezzettino’s voice at the forefront of each track ultimately lends the music its slightly melancholic quality. But by standing so alone throughout so much of this EP, the listener grows perhaps too aware of the lyrics and the music ultimately assumes the quality of a poet reading their poems over a pleasant background. On “Walking Home,” when the female vocal is joined by a deeper, huskier male accompaniment, we suddenly realize the fuller sound Pezzettino could someday realize.
This is not to say the vocals are weak throughout Venus. In “From a Window, Big Sur,” Pezzettino’s voice reaches a point of urgency in the winding outro that she could experiment with more often. In “Walking Home,” buoyed by a strong melody, her sound similarly ascends to new heights. And in “Somewhere North of Pescadero” the integration of voice and background finally is made seamless as the voice meshes perfectly with a watery piano. We are left to half intuit her lyrics instead of hearing them perfectly. The result is the EP’s strongest track.