Tittle: Passenger Peru
Label: Fleeting Youth Records
Brooklyn’s Passenger Peru mark their debut with this self titled album, released on Austin’s Fleeting Youth Records. The duo is a collaborative effort between Justin Stivers (best known for his work as bassist on The Antlers Hospice), and multi-instrumentalist Justin Gonzales.
The record’s first single “Heavy Drugs” arrives at the halfway mark, and strikes a perfect balance between Passenger Peru’s two main touchstones. Early 2000s indie rock is a major reference point throughout most of the album (read: Animal Collective), especially on “Drugs”: the strained vocals, chimey reverb-laden guitars, and loose percussion, all which sound like they could be lifted from the golden days of FatCat Records. Album opener “Your Hunger” sounds deceptively close to a Pinback song – that is, until it diverts from the hook into a wash of overblown keyboards on the chorus. This the most satisfying aspect of the record – on a track-by-track basis, they can switch gears effortlessly, just before an idea goes stale or sounds too derivative.
The other (perhaps less immediately obvious) reference is the Velvet Underground. In spirit and structure, a direct line can be drawn between any Passenger Peru track that exceeds 5 minutes and the first Velvets record. At 7 minutes and fifteen seconds, “Weak Numbers” is the longest song on the album, making this Peru’s “Heroin”. It’s a slow build of fuzz guitars that makes for a meditative experience through the unchanging riff forming the base of the song. Elsewhere, “Dirt Nap” is in line with the VU’s cheerier tracks. Despite its many layers and gritty effects, the well-written pop song underneath shines through.
While it may be tempting to draw comparisons between Stivers’ work on Hospice and this record, there are few to be found. Stivers and Gonzales make this record their own, and it sounds remarkably full for a two-person band. The album was written and recorded over a year in Brooklyn and Alaska, which might account for the general feel of the album – at times wholly aggressive, and others borderline pastoral. Passenger Peru does not break the mould, but the depth of the recordings make it a record that warrants repeat listens.