Tape Review: Pickle Darling’s “Bigness”

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Pickle Darling

Bigness

(Z Tapes)

If the cover art hadn’t already given you the cue, let’s get this out of the way:

Bigness is adorable. Hand-knit sweater giving among friends followed by an extended group hug session adorable.

New Zealand native Lukas Mayo aka. Pickle Darling was pretty damn cute on Spring Onion Pancakes, but he really cranks up the ‘aaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwww’ dial on this one. Pickle Darling likens himself “lo-fi James Blunt” and while their are aspects to Bigness that make this comparison sensible, Jens Lekman and The Postal Service seem like very apt reference points. It’s often only Pickle Darling’s voice that sounds coyly sputtered from a boombox, while the chamber pop/indietronica-tinged twee arrangements are sweet, clear, and lush. He’s also does that thing Lekman does where he plainly tells very quaint personal stories with his songs, drops the first names of his friends with relative frequency, and occasionally has a bit of a potty mouth but totally gets away with it, sounding even cuter (all of these aspects neatly being wrapped with a bow within the opening of “Peppermint Patty” (“I had sushi with my friend Isaac / and he had noodles and we talked some shit / and I told him my love life and he told me his / and he told me his”)). The whole thing is almost saccharine, but Pickle Darling manages to be clever and earnest enough that it settles down and comfortably sets up shop in cozy town.

The standout track is the album’s centerpiece “Rinse Spin Cycle / Nicolas Cage”, a six minute, heart-on-its-sleeve softy epic about the comfort of cyclical living and the fear involved in post-breakup living when your routines have been interrupted and you just want to go back and watch your favorite movie with the one you love again. He further dwells on all of the uncertainties around him, whether his friends will still keep in touch if they don’t need him for rides, if people don’t really like his music (I like your music, Lukas!), etc. It’s a smart, vulnerable, gorgeous song and easily worth the price of admission on its own.

It’s sweet, it’s sappy, and if you have a low tolerance for such things, it’s liable to give you a tummyache, but if you think of Winnie the Pooh as your spirit animal, Pickle Darling’s Bigness is a big, warm jar of honey worth spending your time with.

 

Favorite track: “Rinse Spin Cycle / Nicolas Cage”

 

Rating: Recommended

 

You can purchase Pickle Darling’s Bigness here.

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