Blind Faith and Envy

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I was alerted to this Tucson, Arizona-based band at the announcement of their new album Media Motel. In the meantime I picked up their previous albums, The Charming Factor and Murder of a Girl, each of which is brilliant. They bill themselves as darkwave, which I find amusing as they are more traditional synthpop than almost anyone on the scene right now. Singer Charlene April has a lovely voice that lends itself beautifully to electronic music (see also: her appearance on Edge of Dawn’s “Kiss or Kill”), but this is hardly edgy stuff. It doesn’t need to be. They do what they do very, very well.

The Charming Factor takes more risks but overall sets the pace for the band. Tracks like “Crowded Room” and “Golden Glass” pack a real punch and show how good they can be when they get (a little) aggressive. Murder of a Girl feels like more of the same but the songwriting is so good that’s inherently a good thing. A track like “Water and Land” or “Orchid” (perhaps the best track on the album) breaks no new ground but they write hooks that simply work. These two albums were among my favourite discoveries of the year.

Sadly Media Motel is a major step down. Nearly half the album consists of rather dull instrumentals, and when the underwhelming tracks are subtracted you are left with just a few good songs, namely “How is This for Entertainment” and “My Life is Ordinary”, and none I would call outstanding. It’s ironic that the album that alerted me to their existance is the one I would just as soon forget.

That said, the reason I single them out in the first “official” post here is I will soon reproduce my “best of the year” list (also found at my lastfm account) and they aren’t on it, as the 2008 offering isn’t strong enough. But that takes nothing away from the fact that they have already produced two exceptional albums I highly recommend. They are available on iTunes and it’s totally worth your while to pick up some tracks and get a feel from the band. Some of this material is delightful and a worthy addition to your collection. Just avoid the new one…

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