illustration by Gracen Hoyle
For the record, Saint Motel hasn’t released an album since 2016…technically. Instead, the Californian indie-pop band is taking a slightly different approach to releasing music. Since their conception in 2007, visuals have always played an important role in Sanit Motel’s music. The band’s frontman A.J. Jackson and guitarist Aaron Sharp met in film school at Chapman University before recruiting bassist Dak Lerdamornpong and drummer Greg Erwin. Subsequently, their training in film has had a heavy influence on their music. Their first full-length LP “saintmotelevision” came out in 2016 and featured full 360º virtual reality music videos for each track. This time around, the influence of film assumes more of a thematic role in their recently released EP “The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Pt. 2.” The EP comes as the second release in a 3 part series that has been in the works for the last few years. “The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Pt. 1” began the series in April of 2019, and Pt. 2 picks up right where they first left off. The concept is built around the three major acts of a film: the setup, the confrontation, and the resolution, and each EP released assumes its corresponding role. Eventually, when Pt. 3 is released, the series will make up the band’s “official” sophomore album. “The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Pt. 2” provides five more songs to the soundtrack of the hypothetical movie that Saint Motel is building in their music.
If you didn’t know the background information of the EP you might think it plays like a fairly traditional indie-pop tracklist intertwined with influences of doo-wop sounds from the ’50s and ’60s, which, for what it is, sounds great. It’s fun, fresh and features enticing blends of contemporary and classic pop sounds from the past. What really makes the project stand out, however, is how it continues to drive the story set in the first EP of the series. “The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Pt. 2” serves as the traditional “second act” of a film. Whereas Pt. 1 introduces the story and focuses on optimism, hope and building the characters in the album’s world, Pt. 2 sets the conflict of the story where things start to get interesting. The EP’s opening song, “Make Me Feel Like,” features a catchy chorus, but lyrics in the pre-chorus allude to things not going the way they should “There’s only so much that my heart can take / I get so close and then I hesitate / I don’t wanna die alone.” The second song, “Slow Dance,” continues to build tension with a developing love interest for characters in the plot. The song’s bridge includes lyrics, “There’s no doubt about it / It’s something magical / Feeling our surroundings / And time is slowing down for us.” The EP peaks at track 4, “A Good Song Never Dies,” which really feels like a bad guy’s theme music driven by a low bass riff. Lastly, the 5th and final song, “The Moment,” leaves us with a slow outro and soft vocals over an acoustic guitar melody, which sets the stage for the concluding act.
Saint Motel continues to bring storytelling into their music in new and dynamic ways. The second installment of their developing sophomore album, “The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Pt. 2” is another example of their creative approach to this concept. Whether or not you’re invested in the story or just like the sound of the band, there is plenty to be excited about for the third and final act of “The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.”