Mortar & Pestle

One track into the debut from this Oakland trio, you might be surprised to see a drummer credited in the liners. On “U.V.”—as good a first impression as any new group might hope to make—singer Janaysa Lambert and keyboardist Paul Shinichi do soulful synth-pop somewhere between Depeche Mode and Des’ree, that ’90s one-hit wonder behind “You Gotta Be.” They could have gotten by with keyboards alone, but on the subsequent six tracks, drummer Sean Paul Duke earns his keep, adding to the eclectic vibe of a band whose influences seemingly include ’90s R&B and “Gypsy”-era Stevie Nicks. “I’m on my own,” Lambert sings on “Switchblade Bandita,” as Duke is wailing on the hi-hats. True enough.


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