"Our Time is a refreshing and exploratory take on Pender Street Steppers' nonchalantly breezy style"
Notoriously slow to unveil new music, it’s been two years since Vancouver-based duo Pender Street Steppers released their last eponymous EP. Since then, Jack Jutson and Liam Butler remained quiet on the production front, embarking instead on a near-constant stream of DJ gigs around the world. Yet, they found a gap in their busy schedule to create ‘Our Time’ – a refreshing and exploratory take on their nonchalantly breezy style.
Released under the usual auspices of the Canadian Riviera’s label-collective Mood Hut – ‘Our Time’ is a double single where each track is allocated a vocal mix and an alternative dub treatment. The vocal mixes – unusually for the Steppers – feature lyrical content proper, and are structured and arranged like actual pop songs.
Beginning just as any other Steppers track would, ‘Falling’ fuses pared-down, exposed drum machine pattern, goofy samples and lazy harmonics. Predictability soon comes to an end with a change beyond the usual two-chord formula though, and the entry of a mid-80’s funk-inspired bassline. The instrumental elements interlock tightly, and combine effectively with Jutson’s husky, insouciant vocals.
‘Our Time’ then veers off onto synth-pop, house and dubby terrains. The deep, languorous, almost monotone vocals are coolly delivered, and the glistening synth strings and bursts of chords coming with each hook rejuvenate the bass-focused mix. For anyone doubting the new direction taken by the duo’s sound, the pair also delivers two dub mixes closer to their trademark loungey house blends.
The instrumental elements lead in the ‘Falling (Dub)’, and the Steppers go all in with a conga-heavy beat. Pitch-shifted voices and fragments of the original vocal line – awash with rippling delay – lushly ornament the groove. Hints of smooth-timbred guitar invoke the indie rock days of the duo’s early years, and it’s easy to lose yourself into the dizzying, pendulum-like synth sequence that emerges during the breakdown.
‘Our Time’s (Dub)‘ – which has Jutson and Butler mischievously playing with scat vocals, quirky samples, teasingly small lyric snippets, and a twee synth hook – also retains the ever warm and balmy ’80s vibe. Overall, a novel recalibration of the original, but the sound effect treatment proves to be a touch excessive in places.
Our Time is out now via Mood Hut, order a copy from Bandcamp.
A1. Falling (Vocal)
A2. Falling (Dub)
B1. Our Time (Vocal)
B2. Our Time (Dub)