The introduction to Pepper Rabbit's song, "Dance Card," is the way I seem to wake up most days. There is that period of time before the full understanding of being awake hits us and the reality of another day already underway crashes down on us. It's that slippery dawning, where we half believe it and half despise what's going on. We lie there and try with all of our might to fall back into that second wind of sleep, even with the morning light cracking through the bottoms of the blinds. You can make out everything in the room and that's always a bad sign, as if we've already come too far to ever squeeze more out of the night or our pillow. It's the electronic chimes at the start of the song from the duo's newest album, "Red Velvet Snow Ball," that we're hearing during these moments. They don't last too long, nowhere near as long as we're hoping they would. All that's sought at this point in the day is a reprieve - something that will extend the amount of tranquility that's pouring out of the quiet house. After 20 seconds of this soothing warm-up to the day, Xander Singh and Luc Laurent set off a cannon. Singh comes in with some strong organ and a booming and echo-y burst, as if someone just threw an ice cube down the back collar chute of his shirt, right onto a warm back. Laurent follows suit with a taut and robust pitter pat on the kit. It's like a brood has just stormed the bedroom and pounced on the bed, your body, your head, ripped the covers from your toasty and unprepared bones and muscles and hurtled the daylights at you. It's not a prompt, but a siege and you'd better get up immediately.
The Los Angeles-based Pepper Rabbit feel right to associate with the pre-dawn and the just post-dawn hours, especially when considering the songcraft they demonstrate on this latest album. It's more contemplative and it even sounds as if it's considering phantoms, or those brief flashes of memory that aren't really even there. They are the fragments and remnants of what you just woke up from, the traces and dust of dreamscapes that seem so real during those waking up hours. Singh builds around the shreds of these fluttering half-experiences and together they turn them into blissful fadeouts. They feel contemplative, without getting up into the clouds and energetic, without ever losing sight of a story.