Album Review: Decisive Pink – Ticket To Fame

[Fire; 2023]

Decisive Pink, the duo of Kate NV and Angel Deradoorian, is a project that veers from the serious to the silly while employing tons of sonic and lyrical twists along the way. We’ve heard NV getting up to synth-based hi-jinks and madcap storytelling before – adding a good dash of uncanny on this year’s WOW. But the last we heard from Deradoorian, on 2020’s Find The Sun, she was setting off on Can-like voyages in search of spiritual truth. It’s therefore quite surprising to hear her singing along with NV about throwaway things like frappuccinos and gossip on “Haffmilch Holiday”, the opening track on Decisive Pink’s debut album Ticket To Fame.

However, deeper listening to “Haffmilch Holiday” and the rest of the record reveals more sober themes. Between the sometimes garish synths and nods to capitalist values there is a deeper message about finding connections and personal satisfaction in this overwhelming world of ours. On “Haffmilch Holiday”, for example, the duo don’t want frappuccinos or gossip, they just want silence, play time and the opportunity to dance freely on the grass.

This desire for better is continued in the following “What Where”, which pairs pinwheeling synth melodies with windswept sadness as they disjointedly and poetically track the inevitable passing of time, begging it to stop. Their quest for more personal satisfaction is picked up on “Destiny”, where 8-bit electronics combine with a propulsive beat, underscoring the duo’s tandem chanting about “your destiny”. Rather than act the concerned mother, wondering what you’re doing with your life, they dance around the beat like a pair of ne’er-do-well fairies, tempting and cajoling, proffering a set of cards and asking you to pull one out to reveal your fate, teasingly asking “do you wanna break the rules?” Then, later, across seven minutes of the slowly expanding and swirling synth workout “Cosmic Dancer”, NV and Deradoorian look to the stars and find meaning among the Milky Way, determined to not let time pass them by. Decisive Pink prove that even when the facade is bright and chintzy, the message can be timeless and true.

Having said that, there is also just a lot of absolute tongue-in-cheek silliness popping up throughout Ticket To Leave. “Ode to Boy” is a straight-up song about a crush, the pair blushing as they meekly ask “Could you be more / more than just an ordinary boy?” The dizziness of their attraction and the melodic arrangement piles up to a point where the concluding chant of the melody to “Ode to Joy” feels as inevitable as it does hilarious. “Dopamine”, underscored by a funky bass line, has the pair listing their commercial impulses, “trying to find something to fill up the void and pleasure my mind”. The way they list pointless products – “anatomy bathing suit / real life potato head / kitty thief piggy bank” – followed by a beseeching chant of “I need it! I need it!” and the inevitable hit of “dopamine / dopamine” is as infectious as it is hilarious. Even in these more sardonic moments, there is an underlying message about what our consumerist reality is doing to our minds. Then again, there is “Potato Tomato”, where they just repeat the titular words over again.

Between these lyrically-led tracks, Ticket To Fame is populated by instrumental journeys, the two artists bouncing sounds off and around each other and travelling to distant sonic galaxies, their minds just as in sync as their voices are elsewhere.

Overall Ticket To Fame is the sound of two artists figuring each other out. They’re like two stags locking horns and realising that the sound they make together is glorious and ear-popping and downright unique. Theirs is an ideal Venn diagram where their overlapping proclivities yield magnificent sound, but their desire to be pulled into somewhere entirely new is also audible. The resulting album is at once a hodgepodge of ideas and a collection that is bound together by vintage synth tones NV and Deradoorian’s desire to explore the possibilities of their collaboration. It’s an entirely unpredictable but indefinably enlivening listening experience.