Stunning Dream-Pop Debut From Belgium
Sometimes a musical partnership will come along and you just know it’s a match made in heaven. Jente Pironet and Sarah Pepels are one such pairing, the Belgians meeting as students and creating forlorn dream-pop as Portland, alongside Gill Princen and Arno De Bock on electronics and drums respectively.
They might embrace the melancholy, but there’s no Lana Del Rey-esque sadcore here. Alt-J might be a more fair comparison, were they to incorporate lush male-female harmonies into their sound as Pironet and Pepels manage so effortlessly.
The lyrics are reminiscent of The xx even if their sound isn’t as beat-focused. “I’ve been losing way too long/I wish things could come undone”, they sing together on ‘Expectations’, their voices complementing each other in perfect fashion. Then there’s Blossoms-esque synthy indie on ‘Killer’s Mind’ and folkstep on ‘Lucky Clover’
There are promising signs that Portland can grow, too. ‘You Misread Me’ takes the band further from the classic dream-pop label. Bluesy riffs and funky percussion makes it something akin to present-day Two Door Cinema Club and Sundara Karma.
‘Moonlit’ finishes the album with gently-picked guitar and vulnerable, inviting vocals – it’s unashamed baroque-pop to culminate an encouraging release. Possibly the best Belgian export since Eden Hazard, Portland aren’t to be missed.
‘I’m a music and culture journalist currently based in the West Midlands. Always on the lookout for up-and-coming artists but my favourite bands include IDLES and Arctic Monkeys. Probably last seen at a gig.