‘Musically calling you to the dance floor, you can’t help but move to the disco groove.’
Intro to Patawawa:
Formed of Sam Wilmot, Rory Lovatt, and Beth Garrett, Matlock based band Patawawa are on a mission to get you on the dance floor. Releasing numerous singles since their first, the 2014 hit ‘Dare to Disco’ they have gained backing from BBC Introducing and have become one of their most played bands. It is therefore no surprise that the lead track from this funk-filled disco-inspired EP has seen them highlighted in the NME 100. Read More at: Behind the Music: Interview with Patawawa
Featured Track 1: Patagonia
Setting off with a mix of synth string and brass chords and a dominant drum beat, there’s an immediately toe-tap inducing feel to the opening track ‘Patagonia.’ As if this wasn’t enough, shortly after, an insanely funky guitar line based on the forthcoming chorus melody joins in and having been musically called to the dance floor, you can’t help but start to move.
Reaching the initial lyrics of ‘I’ve got smoke in my eyes in the afternoon,’ a joyously relentless combination of drums and funk filled bass lines ensures that the drive within is maintained. Multi-layered in texture, each individual riff interlocks with the next creating a montage of funk inspired musical delights. However, while these have already musically nodded to trademarks of the 70’s disco scene, a contrasting, subtly pitch-bending synth riff cuts through, fully transporting us right back there.
Having done so, we find ourselves dancing towards a pre-chorus where we continue to feel like we’ve gone back in time. Bringing textural change, the multi-layered sound becomes more sparse with emphasis returning to one focused on drums and the vocal hook of ‘I needed someone, you needed someone’. However, while it may feel as though this is where it will stay – at least for a while – it doesn’t and on reaching the insanely catchy chorus, the sound transforms into one that’s more Jackson 5 than, well, the Jackson 5.
Featuring even more strut-inducing riffs and sublimely performed high-pitched vocals, it’s a combination which doesn’t just nod to, but fully encompasses a more Motown feel. Both instrumentally and vocally earworm-inducing, it’s a chorus that doesn’t just lift the track to new heights, but fully showcases Patawawa’s musicality. You just know the party is only just getting started.
Featured Track 2: Song for Sam
Taking us in a different direction, Track 2 ‘Song for Sam’ opens with a wonderful combination of fading and swelling synths. It’s a much more chilled vibe and immediately you can’t fail to notice the contrast. It’s not full on. Nor is it a full on floor-filler. However, that doesn’t matter as it perfectly demonstrates Patawawa’s more gentle, yet equally enticing side.
Having begun in a sparser manner, the texture begins to seamlessly build. Beginning with the introduction of Beth’s beautiful, heavily echoing vocals, there is warmth not felt in the opener. Though unexpected, given the sound established in ‘Patagonia’, it seems right and musically conjures up the image of a more timid dancer making their way to the floor. However, as the verse progresses, the use of interweaving melodic synth patterns, contrasting bass lines and a familiar sounding drum pattern bring confidence. Like the nervous dancer, the track has seamlessly transformed.
Though certainly more laid back sounding, the previous funk influences are very much apparent and in turn make for a stylish track. Unapologetically appearing as a link between the verse and pre-chorus, talkie-type synth and guitar lines work as a call and response and in doing so, bring restrained drive. Equally, the same can be said for the recurring use of distant synth chords which swell on each return of the line ‘I’m feeling no-one else.’
However, while the track is generally predictable in terms of structure – which is no bad thing, – there are wonderfully unexpected moments which are worked seamlessly into the existing textures. Showcasing this perfectly is the use of double improvisation which features in the latter part of the track. Here, where you would expect another verse to enter – or maybe even a bridge – two guitar improvisations emerge. First distorted, then clean, they are the perfect musical nod to that dancer fully strutting their stuff and leaving the floor with a cool swagger having met their match.
Track 3: Lonely
Bringing with it a return of the energy felt in the opener, Track 3 ‘Lonely’ is anything but. Highly percussive from the outset, a carnival style atmosphere hits you and immediately you feel like you’ve left the confines of the dance floor and taken the party outside. It’s bursting with life and within seconds it becomes a stand out track.
In keeping with the latin style percussion, the use of piano – making its first true appearance in the EP – brings a new influence. Based on extended jazz chords, it makes for a wonderful addition to an already dance-inducing sound. However, while this may indeed feel like a box-step away from Patawawa’s trademarks, like that very move, this samba influenced track is about to return to the immensely infectious origins heard earlier.
Reaching the first verse, the accompanying texture changes dramatically through the removal of the ‘carnival’ like elements. Having only just been established, you may think it would be a shame to drop them out, but you would be wrong. For what takes its place is the sound of hand claps. Working as the only percussive element, it’s the perfect time to shamelessly use one of the most trademark sounds of the 70’s. However, this is only the tip of the cleverness iceberg when it comes to the musicality of the track.
On arriving at the ‘Chic’ sounding chorus you may well expect – given that this is music you most definitely want to dance to – that there would be a seamless transition. After all, that four to the floor beat is there to keep you moving. However, instead of this, the tempo is pulled back for less than a second before it takes off again. Less than a second may sound like it wouldn’t have much impact, but it does and its placement at each recurring point, makes it a musical stroke of genius. As for the scat style vocals and insanely cool sounding trumpet and guitar solos in the latter parts of the track? Well just go and hear them.
Track 4: Humpback
Sticking to the more floor-filling side of their sound, Track 4 ‘Humpback’ immediately sounds like a musical homage to the disco era. Featuring a combination of heavy synth chords, hand claps, dominant high-hat and a synth melody reminiscent of ‘Popcorn,’ you can’t help but smile. Add to this the panning drum fill – which segues into a Dr Beat meets Nile Rodgers–esque guitar riff, – and you really feel like your hearing a track that could have been released decades ago.
Having truly established the style, the first verse lyrics offer up an entirely relatable situation: Seeing ‘the one’ but being unsure what to do. Sitting on top of an accompanying sequence mostly centred around two alternating chords, there is a fantastic sense of energy and like before, you want to be part of Patawawa’s incredibly musical party. Highlighting the ‘situation’ further, multi-tracked vocals bring greater emphasis to the lyrics of ‘I can’t believe you’re dancing with me’ and set in this way, you wish for things to work out.
Following this brief moment of reflectiveness, further attention is brought to moments of reality within the chorus lyrics. Texturally changing with the removal of key rhythmic elements, it’s perfectly contrasting with the ever-infectious accompaniment and the cheekiness within the lyrics in the second verse. However, while it may seem like the track will be structurally re-run – which it is to begin with – change is on the horizon.
Subtly signalling this, a heavily distorted textural sound gradually fades in from nowhere. Initially sounding a bit out-of-place, it certainly grabs your attention. However, as we break-dance our way out of the chorus, it transforms into an incredibly funky sax solo which takes us to a place where infectious music and disco style lyrics really get your hips moving.
Track 5 – What You Want
Bringing a final, summery infused feel, Track 5 ‘What You Want’ opens with overlapping high-pitched guitar riffs. Being vastly different to the fuller sound of ‘Humpback,’ this introduction does take a few seconds to adjust to. Additionally, you wonder why Patawawa have chosen to finish with a change of mood? Well, actually there is a fantastic reason and shortly after, it doesn’t sound that different at all.
Containing more descriptive lyrics than elsewhere in the EP, Beth’s wonderful tone invites us to remain dancing. Projected in this way, our instructions to ‘relax and refresh’ are easily heard and it’s hard to turn down the offer.
Much like previous tracks, there is real drive, but mixed with this, is a sense of relaxation. Though don’t think for one second that I mean you should lay back and listen. Far from it. While the party may be coming to an end, that ‘gin and lime‘ you got earlier is to be taken to the floor.
Having moved through the verse, the chorus sees the vocal switch from female to male. Bringing together the vocals tones used throughout the EP, it’s a fantastically musical decision and while the use of multi-tracking serves as extra encouragement to continue partying, we really don’t need it. Accompanied by a celebratory ‘sweet summer groove’ and selective use of accented drums, you can’t fail to take the advice to ‘leave all your bothers behind’ and ‘get yourself outside.’
However, while this atmosphere continues to be enhanced through us being lyrically instructed to ‘open the champagne,’ the familiar accompaniment appears to subliminally do the same. Maintaining its relentless nature into a bridge – before a final chorus – there really is no let up. In fact, if anything, it becomes even stronger and as the track takes on its most infectious sound, you feel that the real Patawawa party is only just getting started.
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Listen to Patawawa on: Spotify
Find out more about Patawawa and their music at: Gig Review: Patawawa: The Old Blue Last, Track Review: Patawawa: Fight Me and Behind the Music: Interview with Patawawa