Off the Charts Pick of the Week: Reptaliens’ “VALIS”

Through the release of VALIS, Reptaliens have brought themselves into the limelight of alternative music in the United States. With exceptional instrumentation, angelic vocals, loyal fans, an elite label, and an intriguing offbeat aesthetic, Reptaliens deserves to be on everyone’s playlist.

Since their start as a wife-husband duo in Portland, Oregon, vocalist Bambi (Tammy) and keyboardist Cole Browning have come a long way as a group in a relatively short period. Through the addition of Julian Kowalski on guitar and Tyler Verigin on drums, Reptaliens has become a full force alternative band dominating tours and studios across the US.

Reptaliens have cultivated an exciting indie pop/rock sound that is unique to their musical abilities. Led by bright vocals, laid-back harmonies, and lo-fi production, the group has worked to cement themselves as the next big name indie band.

As a collective, Reptaliens have stuck to their hometown vibe and created a fantastic aesthetic that comes out in their style and stage presence. With strange electronic noises, eccentric music videos, and reptile masks on stage, the group stays dedicated to keeping Portland, their music, and their stage life, weird.

Since the release of their 2017 album FM-2030, Reptaliens has produced music through top-tier Brooklyn-based record label Captured Tracks. By joining the collective that brought musically similar artists like Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils, Mac DeMarco, and DIIV to the top of the game, Reptaliens have set themselves up for greatness. On April 26, Reptaliens released VALIS as a 12-song, 31-minute album.

Through Reptaliens’ commitment to the sound of breezy instrumentation and distant vocals, VALIS comes together beautifully. Intro song “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Shuggie II” are perfect representations of their ability to use repetitive lyrical melodies coupled with 80s-esque piano riffs and basslines to make high-quality indie pop.

Outside of the indie pop realm, Reptaliens ensures that their newest project is supported by rock-influenced tracks like “Venetian Blinds” and “Wake Up.” Both songs are notably catchy and feature exciting synth and guitar chords. Currently, “Venetian Blinds” has performed as the best song of the project, however, I can see “Wake Up” becoming one of Reptaliens top tracks off VALIS due to its pop-rock instrumentation and memorable vocal melody.

Most of Reptaliens work is centered around showcasing the lyrical talents of Bambi, however, there are a few tracks on VALIS that highlight other members of the band. “Baby Come Home” stands as another catchy indie rock song that displays the guitar talents of the group with both energetic solos in the beginning parts of the track and a well-assembled bassline throughout. “Echo Park” follows a similar theme and sticks to a strong jazz-like percussion focus which pays off with a captivating final minute of the song.  

Beyond the technical instrumentation skills of the band, one of the most exciting parts of Reptaliens’ music is their production and background electronic sounds. “Give Me Your Love” and “Changing” are two tracks on this album that display that cohesively. These slower tracks with pleasing electronic bits and solos allow for their lo-fi style of production to shine through, and Bambi is able to accompany the sound perfectly.

To put it simply, Reptaliens is a band that should no longer go unheard. Without surprise, VALIS is a top-quality album, and it seems as though Captured Tracks has added another top-tier artist to their list of musical success stories. Their discography and style are exactly what the world is looking for, and it is time to finally give the group the streams they deserve.

-Andrew Edds

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