Archive for March, 2009

Some brief thoughts on Pet Shop Boys’ disappointing new album

Posted in Review with tags , on March 26, 2009 by softsynth

This doesn’t count as an official review because every time I sat down to write a review over the past few weeks I realized the unique soul-sucking power of this album simply made me tired. So this is the quick and dirty version.

I need to say, I appreciate Pet Shop Boys; their continued presence is comforting. They come from an era represented by ever-fewer living, breathing bands, especially from the electro scene of the mid-80s, where a small grouping of bands kept alive the movement when the Golden Age (1980-85) was fading into history. I like they they still do what they always did so well, that even when they have experimented they have remembered what made them a solid, productive, prolific, and sometimes great band once upon a time. On the same note, their last album, Fundamental, was a solid, clever, entertaining album with some really enjoyable, listenable songs like “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show” and “Casanova In Hell”. However, the latest effort, Yes, released wide today, shows a band without anything new to say. 

Again, not a detailed review because the album doesn’t deserve it, but suffice it to say, this sounds like any other nondescript PSB album, with interchangable riffs, droned/spoken Neil Tennant vocals and too-cute-by-half song titles (“King of Rome”, indeed). Lead-off single, “Love etc.” is the best of the lot, and a smart single choice but even it is almost instantly forgettable, and bears too close a resemblance to their take on the Village People’s “Go West” (you can go through the album and match each track to the remarkably similar, but superior earlier PSB song). The rest all blends together into one endless morass. Were this a proper review I would take you through each track and point out where each is wanting, but really, I can’t raise the ire.

Instead, go pick up a copy of Fundamental if you don’t yet own it and hope that is is either a major but forgivable slip-up soon to be corrected with a little newfound imagination or the bitter end, at long last.

Watch “Love, etc”:

Review: Fischerspooner – Entertainment

Posted in Review with tags , on March 17, 2009 by softsynth

A masterwork. Simple and to the point: a great, great album, along with the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s 2009 effort, the best of the year so far.

Fischerspooner are an odd band. As much performance artists as recording artists or musicians, one never knows what one is going to get from them. Their first album, #1 was highly experimental, shades of the minimalist 70s-era electronic music with bleeps and squawks and tuneless singing and it was really fun. The followup, Odyssey, went sharply in a different direction, embracing more traditional rock and electro-pop influences, and it totally redefined what the band was capable of on record. Both record worked on totally different levels. Then came Entertainment

Continue reading

Review: Client – Command

Posted in Review with tags , on March 17, 2009 by softsynth

With great economy of haste, Client rush out their followup to 2006’s Heartland, and it’s a corker. Where Heartland seemed muddled and confused as to what kind of band Client wanted to be, Command shows with sparkling clarity this is a band very much in touch with its electroclash heart.

The biggest surprise of the album is how the band cleverly drew upon the best of the three previous albums. From the Kraftwerkian minimalism of Client, to the electropop of City, to the electronically-influenced rock of Heartland, we experience a touch of each on this clever, often inspired disc. Continue reading

Bounty of DM riches from Alfa Matrix

Posted in News, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2009 by softsynth

I don’t think I ever realized just how many of my favourite bands are on the Alfa Matrix label. New out is the latest in an endless stream of Depeche Mode tribute albums, most of which suck donkeys, but this one may be the most interesting of all. Some of the finest electronic bands on the planet, spanning the full spectrum of electronic music’s subgenres cover some of DM’s best (and often less obvious) songs. Two of my absolute favourite bands of the moment are featured here, Belarus’ Diffuzion and Germany’s Technoir, but they only scrape feebly at the surface – Leaether Strip, i:scintilla, Nebula-H, Regenerator, Ayria, Inure, Psy’aviah (I never noticed how much electronic bands abuse the “gratuitous punctuation rule”), and a host of bands I’m less familiar with come up with some truly inspired cover versions of DM’s very best. It’s a pricey €20 and only available at the Alfa Matrix website, but highly worth it if you enjoy electronic music, even if Depeche Mode leave you cold.

Listen to samples:

Fischerspooner – new cover art, track listings for Entertainment

Posted in News with tags , on March 11, 2009 by softsynth

Fischerspooner have been in hibernation for the last few years, at least on the new material front, but are now, at last scheduled to release the followup to the awesome Odyssey. Entertainment, the band’s third album will be released May 5th with the following track listing: 1. The Best Revenge 2. We Are Electric 3. Money Can’t Dance 4. In A Modern World 5. Supply & Demand 6. Amuse Bouche 7. Infidels Of The World Unite 8. Door Train Home 9. Danse en France 10. To The Moon. 

The band’s sound has changed a lot from the highly experimental #1, to the more hooky, pop-oriented Odyssey, but they remain one of the most innovative bands on the electronic scene. The lead-off single “The Best Revenge” was a very promising start, so all senses are on alert for what could be a very strong addition to the 2009 pantheon…