I don’t usually find myself with enough time on my hands to commit album reviews these days. LA musician Party Nails has got lucky though, partly owing to the end of year slow down but mostly because of debut album “Past Lives and Paychecks” being a gem of a release. The album arrived later October, I’ve only now received a press release about it. It is an unexpected synthesised, blend of indie and pop which has delighted me from start to finish.
Party Nails is the artist name of Elana Belle Carroll. She is a Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, producer, and guitarist originally from Chatham, New York. I’m finding it quite inexplicable she hasn’t been brought to my attention before. Her style and vibe are fed with nostalgic wafts of the 80s tinged song crafting. As a fanatic of both electronic-pop and the 1980s, I will never tire of hearing likeminded enthusiasts paying homage to the era in this way.
This is an album which explores themes of power, love, money heartbreak, and loss.
“As a singer, I really wanted to push myself to the edge of my sanity with each vocal take. Ultimately my goal was to create an album of memorable songs that land across the spectrum of alternative pop,” says Party Nails.
Vocally, the tones & the way in which Elana carries her voice makes it easy to draw comparisons to that of Salt Ashes. Album opener “Paycheck” stylistically adheres, from there in I reminded of the striking similarity between the two female vocalists and continually throughout. The album simply erupts with blissful melodies which dance prettily on the ear. Even the pared back slow numbers, (if you can call them this,) “Musician,” along with tracks from the latter half of the album “I Go To You,” “Brand New,” “On the Rug,” and closer “How Can We” are simmering luscious soundscapes, rhythm & lyrically driven.
I wanted to single out the tracks above, first. They are not the obvious ones to pick out when speaking out about this album. As a newbie to Party Nails, this group of songs were the ones where I best connected to the songwriting, and in turn the distinctive phrasing and candour of the singer. The storytelling here is nothing but authentic, genuine heartfelt dialogue. When resurrecting 80s synth-pop grandeur “With Time” (I Will Come 2 U) towers above everything else on “Past Lives and Paychecks.” Through no fault of our own Spotify has turned us into a culture of spontaneous playlist curators where we pick and choose, a little of this and that wherever we go to listen. I would urge you NOT to shoot past tracks on “Past Lives and Paychecks” as elsewhere on the album there are rewards of delicate synth dappled tracks (“Clothes,” “Luxury Of Love” and “Never Look Again”) and weightier electronic-pop songs (“So Broke,” and “My 404”) which throb with equal amounts of nostalgic charisma.
The music of Party Nails is strewn with 80s references, intricate electronics, and a low-slung groove, throughout. I really have not heard a finer example of this kind of retro in synth aesthetic style on an album this year, than “Past Lives and Paychecks.”