Beauty Pill, Please Advise - Album review by Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture

Beauty Pill, Please Advise – ALBUM REVIEW #25

Chicago has been under the spotlight on this blog for a series of recent reviews, but now is the time to bring Washington D.C. on the forefront with Beauty Pill’s not-so-enigmatic album Please Advise, out now on Northern Spy Records.  

Marketing being what it is, personal choices are often induced by the attractiveness of an album cover. Something deeper attracted us this time. If you haven’t missed our guide to Miles Davis, you know how much we love the man and the music. The album title, Please Advise, is actually made of the two words who sealed Bitches Brew’s naming.

Now, this might be quite a futile reason too. Nonetheless, we’re glad that this potential futility led us to discover the music of Beauty Pill, a band which has been active since 2001 but unheard of since 2015.

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Beauty Pill, Please Advise, our review:

Subtle

Please Advise is undeniably an album of subtlety, especially when it comes to the vocals. Erin Nelson’s voice is beautifully mastered, and the repetition of some of her segments only reveal this complex but natural beauty little by little, at its own pace. 

The way Erin’s voice marries the brass section is especially mesmerizing, and still, not odd at all. There’s an interesting deforming mirror effect whenever the two communicate. This reinforces the already strong visual power of the music delivered by the band.

Adventurous

This album sounds like an unstoppable train, definitely not leaving you on the platform. When we first pressed play, the first mental image we had in mind was the mental image of a whirlwind. That being said, do not expect confusion. Please Advise’s production is so tailored that no one would even dare to feel disoriented. The second track, titled Tattooed Love Boys illustrates this quite perfectly.

The main artistic value of this opus is the constant reconciliation of an abstract lo-fi aesthetic with the down to earth reality of human artistic sense.

Beauty_Pill_sunny_day_Morgan_Klein
Courtesy of Morgan Klein

Loud

There’s a modern grunge influence embellishing this record. This influence is crystal clear on Prison Song and on The Damnedest Thing (that outro is nothing but reasonable decadence). Let’s be clear, there is no Pearl Jam wannabeism in sight, just a powerful warmth in Erin’s somewhat candid voice contrasting with the enlightened darkness of some chord progressions.

The drums seem to be the proeminent instrument on Please Advise. The different drum kits used shine by their cohesion, and never fail to remind familiar patterns and musical landscapes without copying them. Radiohead fans will get this.

If you don’t like this album, we’ll have to ban your IP from our servers. More seriously, if a five-year leave of absence led all musicians to produce music like this, it would be made mandatory. UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage authorities, if you hear us (even if we know you don’t), you know what to do.

Beauty_Pill_under_the_bridge_2_color_Cameron_Whitman
Courtesy of Cameron Whitman

Beauty Pill, Please Advise

Available now (Northern Spy Records).

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