Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Smooth, funky, groovy and sexy are all adjectives that suit Beckett’s latest album Electric Pillow Talk. From the melted chocolate flow of his voice to the undeniable grooves and the funky synths, everything about this album sucks me in. Along with some great guest artists, he creates a retro-tastic and sharp sounding recording with a unique feeling in the world of synth-based music.
First of all, I want to talk about Beckett’s singing. This is a man with velvet pipes. His voice is smooth, easy and can be downright sexy when he wants it to be. It’s a style that suits the groovy, funky feeling of the music and also matches the lyrics that he’s written. I also like his tasteful use of the Talkbox to add another interesting synthetic sounding element to the mix.
The guest performances are all outstanding on the album from Luca Ricardo’s mastery of the guitar to Rachael Jones and Esmeralda Vere who bring their own unique vocal styles to the mix. Beckett’s decision to get a proper DJ (DJ Joseph John) to do some actual scratching on “Show Me What You Want” adds more quality to the recording as well.
I have to mention the use of funky slap bass on Electric Pillow Talk. It just has such a great sound to it, and when it locks in with the groove of the drums, the whole thing just sits in the pocket and relentlessly boogies down. It really adds a solid bottom end to support the other musical elements on the album.
Beckett writes strong, catchy melodies and plays them on tasty synths that shine, glow and flow through the music. There’s sparkle and brightness to even the slower melodies that contributes to the energy of the album. He’s also got some fun synth solos that feel jazzy and full of soul.
My Favourite Tracks Analyzed
Here is a look at my favourite tracks.
“20 Years" is a good way to showcase all of the elements that make this album work. There’s the catchy and energizing melody, Beckett’s smooth and easy voice sailing through, a throbbing beat and Luca Ricardo’s intricately played solo leaping through the track. On top of it all, there’s the engaging, touching lyrics of the song itself. Everything is given a bright shine by the synths that are used here.
I find the lyrics of this song quite moving as Beckett sings, “It’s been a real long ride, Think of all the fun we’ve had. We compliment each other. And yeah, we never looked back. I feel it’s still beginning.”
Some connections just stand the test of time. As the lyrics say, “Never thought we’d get this far, when we were young. The clock ticks, at least I got you. It won’t stop - I’m still holding on to you.”
I love the sentiment in the chorus, “It was 20 years ago when I first held your hand, And they say that it’s still crazy, but we’ve made it. And in 35 five years or more when both old and grey, I’ll be the one to make it right.”
The feeling of ‘rightness’ is nicely conveyed in the words, “I spent my youth in a spiral. Crashing hard, over a crush, but then you found me and you were my new rush. I like how the song ends, “We started young, they said ‘you haven’t got a clue.’ Still young at heart, I guess we did it right?"
“Show Me What You Want”
There’s so much groove and funk on “Show Me What You Want.” The slap bass starts things off along with the undeniable percussion groove and that incredibly funky synth melody. Beckett brings a sexy quality out in the lyrics with his voice and there’s an easy flow to the music with its strong retro vibes.
Sometimes there’s desire that can’t be ignored and this song conveys that well. As Beckett sings, “Come on now babe how do you want this to be? We could make it right, I could spend the night? It don't have to be love?”
There's a sense of letting go and seeing what happens in the words, “For one night, let's just leave our feelings to chance, I could be, good thing for you, shoot me a kiss and we can dance.”
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I also like the sensuality in the lines, “ Let's get together slow and easily I’ll show you, you can show me.” This is definitely a smooth and sexy jam.
“Aerobixx” creates the image of big hair, Spandex and coordinated sweating. There’s some great slap bass and an endlessly driving beat to propel the track forward. The shiny lead synth melody is uplifting and positive while all of the other musical elements around it burst with light and glow.
The flute-like synth on this track has a jazzy feel to it especially when Beckett solos on it. Luca Ricardo’s jumping and flying guitar kicks in to add even more energy to the proceedings. This track really feels like it’d be the ideal music for a perfect workout to get that blood pumping.
"It Don’t Get Much Better”
There’s something very sexy about "It Don’t Get Much Better.” Beckett’s voice is like melted dark chocolate and that funky bass only adds to the groovy smooth feeling. I also enjoy the glowing ornaments of synth that flash in the track while the drums and bass sit in the pocket.
Over top of that groove there’s a climbing, moving and jazzy guitar solo that adds more sexiness to the proceedings. Rachael Jones’ voice adds a nice second element to the track as well.
This is a song with the tension in it between wanting to fulfill desire but also to find something deeper. I like the lines, “Baby, baby lets make a start, its a midnight special for two. I use my whisper, excite the mood, let’s see what talk can do.”
I enjoy the intimacy in the words of the chorus, “It don’t get much better than this tonight. Just you and I together for some time” as well as the sense of anticipation in the words,”I know you’ve been planning for nights, your friends keep looking at me, they been talking with you.”
The tension comes in when our narrator finds out “there’s a rumour that’s going around town 'coz your friends keep talking bout me having coffee with you,“ that although "we’re playing fooling round on the side, I know you want it serious too.”
I enjoy the fun little exchange between Rachael Jones singing things like, “Say you’re mine, say you never wanna let me go” and “say you’re always on my mind, say you’re always gonna love me so” as Beckett replies “I don’t know” but eventually sings, "Look, Why don’t we start with tonight?"
“Hot Sauce” is a track where the beat and the synths are locked together as another light and easy melody trips through the music, flying along on those string-like synths. I like the interesting percussion hits that come in and the bright, wriggling and moving synth line. That makes an easy journey through the music. I like how the flight continues as everything keeps on soaring upward.
“Forever’s Never Long Enough”
I really enjoy the jazzy, wandering melody of “Forever’s Never Long Enough” along with the washes of rising synth and sweeping wind that move over funky bass and an easy flowing beat. Beckett’s Talkbox filtered voice moves in, adding a unique quality as Rachael Jones contributes her smooth vocal vibe to the track.
There’s an impermanent feeling in the words that contrasts with the idea that “forever’s never long enough.” As the lyrics say, “Time has come to pass and this moment is not meant to last. And this rhythmic heart of mine stopped when you walked the line away.” Aching emotion comes through in the lines, “Far more times than that, I have wondered when it went bad.”
When Rachael Jones starts to sing her words have a much warmer feeling in lyrics like, “Come on baby, take me on a trip and fly me away now, start to dream” and “Whisper you love me any time or space. I’m ready to fly with you.”
Beckett’s voice comes back in and the contrast happens again as he sings, “You play with my heart, just like it’s a game you can pretend. You think you can take that for free and you still got your hold over me.” There’s an acknowledgement of this tension between loss and yearning in the words, “Forever’s never long enough. On and on and on, you keep me holding” as the song draws to close on the chorus.
The mixture of funk, groove and Beckett’s vocal chops along with great guitar work and guest vocals gives Forever’s Never Long Enough a unique feeling in the world of modern, but retro-influenced synth music and makes me curious to hear where Beckett takes his music next.