The concept of the album is not hard to surmise. As someone raised on grainy VHS depictions of Los Angeles through classic Hollywood cinema of the '80s and '90s, Kouchian channeled his youthful celluloid dreams into a focused studio set-up comprised of old, crunchy drum machines and wobbly synths. The resulting album plays out like a fantasy montage of the city.
There are plenty of moments where a kind of off-kilter funk takes hold, as on the infectious slap bass pop of "Plomo O Plomo." The spirit of Prince looms large in the clipped boogie of "Hermanos Cerdo." The most outright party track is undoubtedly "Niños Matadores," which turns the LinnDrum whiplash up to 11. In these moments the soundtrack concept cedes ground to the dance floor, but behind the clamour of the drums there are misty-eyed pads loaded with nostalgia for a bygone era of extravagance.
Compared with Kouchian's earlier, club-focused work, Pacific Alley has many more melancholic moments in line with its cinematic vision. "Armas Y Heroinas" stands out as one of the album's strongest moments, and it's here that its tape-stretched romanticism comes to full fruition. As with most of the tracks, it's a brief two-minute tale, but in that time the simple sequence of warbling chords evokes the sensation of watching a lo-fi crime thriller set in a sprawling metropolis.
Pacific Alley can seem like a throwback record, but, for all its vintage sound sources, the LP's production is uncommonly rich. Amid the boisterous but crafty drums and gaudy synth strokes, this still feels like the same artist who was releasing raucous leftfield dance music in the mid-'00s. The music is simply rendered with a different set of tools.