By Francis Cabal
In my review of Pastilan Dong!’s debut album, I called their experiments in repetition and noise a challenging listen that is still worth your while. For the band’s second release, they toned down the experimentation for a more cohesive and melodic set of songs that owes a lot more to indie rock than the previous record. And while I say that “Every Step Is Backward” is a much more melodic record, it doesn’t mean that the record lacks any balls. In fact, the record opens with a blast of energy with the noise rock-meets-neo-psychedelia of “Tantrum”. Right from the get-go, this is a record that goes right for my heart with its fuzzy guitars and catchy melodies.
Compared to the first album, this is a record where bassist Costantino Zicarelli and drummer Vin Zafra shows off their chops as a pretty tight rhythm section as evidenced in the Mudhoney-esque second track, “Endurance”. Kaloy Olavides and Pow Martinez also show that they’re a force to be reckoned with, using their guitars to provide textures than relying on sheer guitar wanker-y, and the results are amazing.
The band tones things down for the third track, “The Idol”, pushing Olavides’ vocals to the forefront. The repeating melodies and droning guitar will definitely stick with you immediately right after the first listen. The following track, “Aphrodite”, is one of the first songs I’ve heard from this record and it had “hit single” written all over it. The song hearkens back to the days when pogo-ing in rock clubs was the “in thing” to do. It’s catchy, it’s loud, and it’s anthemic.
Pastilan Dong! continues on this particular tangent with songs like “Lost”, “More of You”, “Opposites Repel”, and “And Now” which is the album’s closer. However, for the longer tracks like “Be Still”, “Red Period”, and the 9-minute “A Touch of Might”, they return to the sonic experimentation that made their first record such an engaging listen.
“Every Step Is Backward” is a much more well-rounded release compared to the band’s first record, and it is all the more enjoyable for it. The thing with Pastilan Dong! is that underneath all the fuzz and all the noise, they have some pretty solid songs and “Every Step Is Backward” is proof of that.
For a band as prolific as Pastilan Dong!, it’s not hard to imagine that they’ll be coming out with a new record sometime soon. And frankly, I am excited. Because their two records are a couple of the most exciting local releases I’ve ever heard in recent years.