The Fragility and Grace of Pascal Pinon

Pascal Pinon photo 3

The sound of Twosomeness, the sophomore effort from Pascal Pinon  (comprised of Icelandic twin sisters Jófrídur and Ásthildur) could best be described as, “woodsy and wise.”  The album is out this Tuesday, February 5th, on Morr Music.  The indie “folk” duo are quite whimsical and organic, but there is something in the eloquence of their delivery that makes nearly everything they say sound intellectually profound… Whether or not I know exactly what they’re saying (The songs aren’t exactly all in English.)  Unfortunately, for me, none of my favorite album cuts (opener, “Ekki Vanmeta,” closing track, “Rifrildi,” and some-where-in-the middle’s “Kertið”) are in my native language.  I think my favorite thing about Pascal Pinon’s latest record is that, unlike many of today’s biggest (and best, in all fairness) folk outfits, is that they don’t seem to be holding onto any particular traditions or formulas of the genre (If they even consider themselves part of the genre to begin with.)  “Ekki Vanmeta,” seems simplistically playful, sunny, and pleasantly youthful, bringing to mind images of youth in summer dresses, twirling around in fields (Who said clichés are always a bad thing?)  “Kertið” has the sisters exploring pure dream pop, recalling Asobi Seksu at their most stripped and restrained.  “Rifrildi”… Christ, I wish I knew what this one was about.  The album closer is, by far, the album’s heaviest (albeit quite gentle) track, resembling the most somber moments of folk’s roots… In my mind, it’s delicately prophesizing the end times (But I could be way off… Also does any cinephile want to confirm that it sounds exactly like the song at the end of Sweet Movie?)  After starting a band at 14, the sisters of Pascal Pinon released their debut album in 2009 to critical acclaim from the likes of Paste and The Guardian and even earned a “Newcomer of the Year” nomination at the Icelandic Music Awards.  However, Twosomeness sees the girls on the verge of adulthood, with a sound that has further matured.  I recently got a chance to chat with Jófrídur and, while I did think it would  be a bit annoying to keep asking what each particular song was about, we did get to chat about the band’s evolution, touring, and even a bit about football.

Pascal Pinon photo 2
Izzy: So I can only assume that your name was inspired by the “two-headed” circus performer, Pasqual Pinon, which I think is pretty awesome.  What do you consider to be your biggest (and quirkiest) inspirations outside of the world of music?

Jófrídur: Given that it’s non-musical, I would have to say football player Fernando Torres.  Our friend, Rósa, was head-over-heels in love with him 1-2 years ago and it was around that time when we asked her to write some lyrics for us. The result is a song in Swedish that is called “Fernando,” and it’s an ode to their unfulfilled love.

Izzy: Twosomeness is your sophomore album.  How would you characterize its aesthetic, compared to that of your debut?

Jófrídur: We gave more thought to the details than we’ve ever done before. The album has a good wholeness about it but, at the same time, when you listen closely to each song, you can hear they are all different and unique in their own way. All in all, the album is very fragile, yet graceful aesthetically.

Izzy: Is there a particular song that you like best, or that you feel like best characterizes your musical mindset?

Jófrídur: I like all of them, of course.  They each have a special meaning to me.  If I had to pick one, I’d say “Good and Bad Things” (though I know Ásthildur will disagree with me), because the lyrics are probably the truest thing I’ve ever written.

Izzy: Folk has recently become quite a popular artistic form in the world of indie music.  What do you think about current musical trends and do you feel like there are any other artists doing things that you especially like, can-relate-to, or find inspiring?

Jófrídur: There is a lot going on in the indie music scene, and I love it that people are taking pop music to the next level, making more complicated songs and arrangements, or creating a brand new sound world. There is very much yet to happen and I’m excited to see what it is.

Izzy: What are your plans and goals for 2013?  Any touring in the works?  If so, what can be expected of the live experience?

Jófrídur: We are going on tour in February/March in Europe.  That is very exciting, and then we are going on another tour in May, also in Europe. We are going to graduate from school in spring and hopefully start some new and interesting studies in the fall, and then keep on writing songs and get ideas for album number three.  As for our live show, we are playing as a two piece for the first time ever. We have done several small shows like that, but not a full tour. We have made our feet active by playing bass pedals and drums with them at the same time as our hands and mouths are busy with singing and playing. It’s going to be a party!

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.