Immediately warm and welcoming, “Pendulum” punctuates its laid-back opening groove with a concise guitar riff—but only twice. It’s a sturdy, time-honored three-chord descent, the kind of riff with which a typical rock band might pound you into submission. Here, then, is a crafty duo from Portland—Daniel Hindman on guitar, Sarah Versprille on keys and vocals—that appears to understand the power of restraint; they use the riff only in the intro and in the chorus and each time we hear it repeated just the two times. Instead of walloping you with it, they caress you.
And then there’s the matter of singer Versprille, and the sweet vigor with which she sings. Even through a smeary blanket of reverb, her voice has a cloudless purity. It too feels like a kind of caress. Oh, and when we only heard the riff twice in the introduction, it was followed by an ancillary instrumental melody gliding gracefully down and partially back up a full octave. That turns out to be the climactic melody line in the chorus, and as in the intro, it follows those two iterations of the riff; but see here how the riff now weaves itself artfully below the emphatic melody line. The entire song, upon repeated listens, feels like one grand and artful weave, and Hindman’s guitar lines turn out to be just as much the cause of delight as his band mate’s vocals.
“Pendulum” is a song from the duo’s full-length debut, Moon Tides, due to arrive in August on Partisan Records. The pair previously released a four-song EP in 2012, and was featured here for the song “Ivory Coast” last May. Thanks to Lauren Laverne over at BBC Radio 6 Music for the head’s up.