Wollongong’s indie-pop quartet Pirra have today released Spirals, their first record since their 2017 EP, Animal Kingdom. It’s a beautiful eclectic mix of straight-out dance floor bangers as well as other tracks that may appear a little more laid back, but suck you into a jiving vortex before you know it. The creativity of the band is mighty impressive.
The band is a hotbed of creativity, with swirling synths, hypnotic beats, and the silky smooth vocals of lead-singer Jess Beck, Spirals is a wonderous trip, and one well worth taking.
They collaborated with Tim Wheatley on their most recent single, “Out Of My Hands”, a track that featured vocals shifting between Jess and Tim.
About the album, James McKendry (guitar, synth) writes “Being eclectic has always been an interesting topic for us and the source of a few arguments. There’s the idea that you should make a cohesive product, and there’s also the idea that it’s just about the songs. There’s plenty of examples of artists doing both so I guess we just do what feels right for the time. It’s been a few years since Animal Kingdom and we’ve been itching to do a second album for ages now. As a musician you tend to want to release songs as soon as you write them, so doing singles can feel pretty constipated but that’s just how the industry works, and it feels great to be able to present what we’ve been working on. We’ve pushed to have as many new songs on the album as possible. The oldest track on the album is Spirals which was written by Jess and Curt at least five years ago. It was in the live set for a while and has had about 3 or 4 different versions done, so it will be great to let it free in the world”.
Their live shows are legendary, for good times and high-energy dance floors. If you are in Sydney or Brisbane this weekend, you can catch them on the Listen Out 2022 lineup. Ticket links are below.
To celebrate the release of Spirals, Pirra have put together a track-by-track breakdown of the album. So press <play> and give it a read. Be warned, you might be out of your seat bopping away before you know it.
Spirals from Pirra, Track by Track
We’ve been keen to release an album for a while now, it feels like there were whole phases of music the band went through that we didn’t get to release any of. But on the other hand, Sam La More made a comment to us that every artist has a hard drive full of unreleased music that they thankfully never inflict on the public. Either way it was a privilege and a pleasure for us to collaborate with some phenomenal talent, and we’re so lucky to have had the support of our label Cr2 through what’s been a rough couple of years in the music industry. To me the songs are like snapshots in time from the journey we’ve been on since our last EP four years ago until now. We hope Spirals falls on friendly ears and people can find as much enjoyment in it as we have!
“Your Street” is about two people meeting at night to watch the stars. It was really fun recording the drums direct to tape for this one at Stranded Recording Studios. There’s nothing like watching those wheels turn. I also love how much Jeff loves this song, and gotta admit he was right about fixing the arrangement, damn drummers.
Out In The Air
This wafted about for a while, but fell into the demo graveyard. But it’s always been one of Jess’ favourite Pirra tunes, so when Mark Brown (head of our label Cr2) stumbled across it and fell in love with it, they joined forces and campaigned to have it on the album. So we dug it up and rejigged it. It was a late but welcome edition to Spirals, and Jess’ vocals on the bridge are sublime!
Night Time Special
“Night Time Special” was birthed from Curt’s laptop. On the night we recorded the group vocals for the chorus, we drank a bunch of wine and set up a mic and everyone sang around it which was so much fun. There were definitely a few bum notes but it’s part of the vibe right?
“Blue Giant” is about how some people can be so energetic and magnetic that they pull you into their energy field and burn you up. It started as Curt’s instrumental track and I remember thinking it sounded amazing, but there was still so much room for vocals.
Stealing From Tomorrow
This was written after we went to Yours and Owls festival in 2021. PNAU headlined, and it was the first festival we had been to in ages. It was amazing that they managed to pull it off amongst all the restrictions. Jess noticed that a lot of the songs people were responding to were sitting at 114bpm, so Curt took the challenge to make a song at that tempo. We all know at festivals that you’re usually stealing all the fun from the next day, so that was the idea behind the song.
“Never Apart” has to be the funnest memory of any song we’ve recorded. We got to work with Sam La More which was wonderful, if he was a cult leader, we’d probably join. He wasn’t afraid to be honest and had a big influence on our writing and producing moving forward. We filmed part of the process with Pedestrian TV sponsored by Jack Daniels, so much fun was had, thanks Sam.
This track really showed up out of the blue. It was an instrumental track that Curt had written after he broke his arm snowboarding trying rails for the first time. Not bad at all for left hand bass synth. Anyway, the track sat around for ages before our label Cr2 sent it to Cumbiafrica, they loved it and said they wanted to put vocals down. What they sent back totally blew our minds. We can’t believe what a talented duo they are.
I’m pretty sure this was written during our pre-arm break snow period. I remember we were in the hotel room all throwing in lyric ideas. We were in Perisher for about a month doing gigs and were starting to get cabin fever. I’m glad we managed to convert some of that energy into songs.
This song was actually written about five years ago, and features a very off-the-cuff late-night performance from Jess. It’s a bit of magic she made up on the spot and sang into a cheap microphone. We tried a few times to record it again in higher quality but just could never quite capture the vibe of the original performance so we just left it in. We’ve done quite a few arrangements of this song, so seeing it get released is like seeing your oldest kid graduate high school. Sad to let it go, happy to see it live its dreams.
Under the Skyline
“Under the Skyline” was the first song we’d released that got on a bunch of playlists and had more people respond to so that was really exciting for us. It was the song that Cr2 signed us for and really the start of heading further towards an electronic dance direction. Initially, the song was called ‘Once’ and was going to be released with mine and Curt’s side-project ‘James From Taree’ before Jess claimed it for Pirra!
Out of My Hands
“Out of My Hands” started as a lockdown bedroom demo and was a bit inspired by NZ band Leisure. We dug it, but weren’t sure if it really fitted the direction of the band. Around the same time Mark Brown hooked us up with Tim Wheatley who turned out to have the perfect voice for the song and it went from there.
UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenoma). About a year ago the CIA declassified thousands of documents relating to UAP’s. Check it out, there’s a good article in The Guardian about it and some of the videos are really interesting. Anyway, maybe if aliens did come check us out they’d be feeling pretty bummed watching us damage our earth and build nukes etc. Just a thought. Or maybe they’d just take all our oxygen and bail who knows.
Upcoming Shows: – Listen Out 2022 – tickets available HERE
SAT 1 OCT | CENTENNIAL PARK, SYDNEY
SUN 2 OCT | BRISBANE SHOWGROUNDS, BRISBANE
Header image credit: Nigel Kippers