Filter Distortion – Transition

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It seems that the lure of eighties electro and synth pop will never diminish as old bands try to relive their past successes and new bands explore the spices of that decade in their own ideation. UK electro band Filter Distortion is a proposition which wears the inspiration of that era boldly on their creative sleeve, yet twists and transforms it into something distinctly fresh and modern. The proof is in new album Transition, a transfixing collection of virulent electro sculpted songs which ignite ears with infectious imagination and provides the first pop classic of 2015.

The Liverpool quartet of Ian Hall, Wesley Hughes, Phil Morton, and Phil Gofton spent the last year creating and recording Transition before working with engineer and producer Daniel Woodward on its mastering. The result is an encounter which croons and seduces the senses as only eighties electronic music can but with a hungry invention and enterprise bred by electro pop invention and evolution of today. From opening track Black and White, band and album has senses and emotions bound in melodic enterprise and magnetic sounds. Bookended by the revving of a motorbike, for a reason more obvious to the band, the song swiftly blossoms into an Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark like enchantment. Outstanding vocals are soon caressing ears within a weave of synth cast elegance, casting their temptation throughout as keys provide a spatial romance for the senses. It is an evocative embrace aligned to darker shadows which only add depth and intrigue to the rich charm and contagion of the song.

The outstanding start is swiftly matched by the vibrant and slightly livelier Pressure, though again it is a reserved stroll of a track with swarthy bass and rhythmic tones courting an evocative synth exploration. Finding a more Depeche Mode like flavouring to its enthralling recipe of craft and electronic persuasion, the track wraps inescapable and resourceful temptation around ears. That leads to an already hungry appetite for the release to get greedier and thoughts keen to dig deeper into the sound of Filter Distortion, something rewarded straight away by the addictive catchiness of Resonator Express and the emotive balladry of Midnight Drive. The third song on the release explores a different eighties seeded avenue as darkly lit strains of keys collude with melodic radiance, the union a riveting dance on ears whilst its successor produces a familiar tempting infused and invigorated with the lure of great vocals and tangy melodies. Thoughts of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys return but equally those of The Correspondents as the croon and boom of the song provides another irresistible enticement.

     Frequency Modulation hits the dance-floor next, its bubbly electro canvas potent bait for feet whilst keys and melodies flirt salaciously as vocal samples inform and spark thoughts. Think Picture 28Thomas Dolby does EBM but turned inside out by the invention of Filter Distortion and you get a hint of the inventive and composed stomp lighting up the air before the masterful hug of new single Neon Nights and subsequently previous single Cameras in the Dark appear. The first of the two is pure contagion, chorus and hooks gripping drama revelling in the variety of the vocals and the sultry breath of the sounds around them. It is a captivating doorway into the album and the band’s resourceful sound matched by the second of the two tracks. Featuring guest vocalist Cheryl Anna, the song has a more indie feel with effect lined vocals and a pungent bass tone revealing new veins of the great diversity and exploration running through the band’s songwriting.

When the Lights Go Out provides a darker soulful offering next and though the song misses igniting the passions as successfully as earlier songs, it is an engrossing tune to capture the imagination before Lost Boys gives that OMD inspiration another airing. The track is glorious, every vocal and musical note an epidemic of insatiable persuasion. It is fair to say that there are only highlights on the album but some songs stand slightly above others and the album’s penultimate proposition has one of the loftiest views.

The closing Game Over ensures the album ends on a good and ear catching footing but with its lack of real vocals and unremarkable instrumental premise, it is the least favourite track upon Transition and the only time you almost hanker for another of the album’s treasures instead.

Filter Distortion is quite simply a band for electronic pop fans of all decades. Their sound bridges eras but develops its own personality and uniqueness in doing so, whilst in Transition, the band has as suggested offered the year its first essential pop triumph.

Transition is available now as a digital download and limited edition vinyl @ http://filterdistortion.bandcamp.com/

http://www.filterdistortion.co.uk/

RingMaster 13/01/2015

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Antigone Project – Self Titled EP

Official Picture

Creating electronic rock with seemingly a healthy influence of eighties synth rock and new wave, French band Antigone Project recently released their debut self-titled EP. It is a proposition which merges numerous potent flavours into atmospheric flights of sound, each soaked in evocative ambiences and embracing as many nostalgic essences as it does fresh endeavours. The release grows on the ears and psyche, making a strong first impression but evolving into an even more stirring proposition over time and plays. It is fair to say that it did not quite ignite a fire in the belly even then, but like a lover’s caress it coaxes and lingers for a thoroughly enthralling and enjoyable proposal.

The Antigone Project is the creation of vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Frédéric Benmussa, initially a solo project formed in 2002 and expanded over time by the addition of lead guitarist Nik Nonotte, bassist Manu Ventre, and drummer Fred Monaco. With shows alongside the likes of Moriarty and many festival appearances subsequently under their belt, the Paris quartet has continued to evolve and hone their sound over the years, fusing French and English sung songs into an attention luring collection of songs inspired from the likes of Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Joy Division, Tool, and numerous more. Last November the band released this, their debut EP, and the Florent Livet (Phoénix, Housse de racket, Bloc Party) mixed and Antoine “Chab” Chabert (Daft Punk, Justice, Detroit) mastered proposition was swiftly drawing acclaimed loaded reactions.

As The Voyager spreads its elegant charm across ears it is easy to see why the release has been keenly embraced so far. With radiant and vocal melodies emerging from keys as a spoken narrative whispers in raw tones, the song is soon sparking the imagination. It eventually erupts into a magnetic flight of sonic intrigue and suggestiveness as rhythms roll across its broadening a1738344167_2scenery before settling into a more restrained grazing of evocative vocals from Benmussa and matching sounds. Predominantly though there is a spatial air to the track, a vast soundscape of aural drama and sonic adventure which drives the music and sets the release off in striking style.

The following Lux Machinae bubbles with electro vivacity from its first breath, a darker yawn of keys the only shadow to the track’s melodic dance. Benmussa again immediately impresses with his vocals whilst musically the song has a flirtatious essence of bands like Blancmange and Depeche Mode to its character. Rawer tones from the guitar also infuse the flavoursome tapestry of the song, helping create an almost fiery heart and presence especially in the raucous finale where vocals are as emotionally aflame as the rich sounds around them.

Diversity is openly available on the release as shown again by the guitar led entrance of Egolist. The track glides into an eighties bred sway of sound from that initial coaxing bringing a definite Visage flavouring to the French language delivered temptation. A relatively gentle stroll from the start with a slightly brooding texture to its persuasion, it breeds an increasingly intensive drama which subsequently fuels every emerging aspect of the impressive and riveting romance with the senses. It is the peak of the release but straight away backed by the celestial seduction of Alphabot. Keys once again take charge as they steer the song, creating a soaring sonic expression nicely tempered by a great darkly lit bassline. There is a feel of Interpol and UK band Silhouettes to the emotively crafted croon which only aids the seduction enveloping ears and imagination. The song does not leap from the speakers but binds the listener into a long term and persistent tempting which is just as potent as the more immediate thrills of other songs.

The EP also comes with a trio of bonus tracks, starting with the rhythmic jungle and melodic incitement of Eko. The song explores another avenue to the band’s sound, its body taking on an indie and rock rawness to stand aside of its predecessors. The track is a riveting look into another corner of Antigone Project’s sound and invention, and definitely is more than just a bonus treat, much like God Played A Trick On Us which equally explores new territory with an underlying folk lilt to its emotive balladry. As it simmers with increasingly livelier intent, keys and guitars create a magnetic cradle for the alluring vocals. The song reminds ears in many ways of Colin Vearncombe and his project Black, rivalling anything else on the EP before the outstanding Infinite Pulse provides a closing weave of electronic tempting. Its sizeable enticement comes complete with a bass lure surely inspired by The Cure as well as vocal and melodic theatre bred from seeds of The The. It is a striking end to an excellent introduction to the Antigone Project who, in bridging nostalgic and modern sounds in their unique yet welcomingly familiar way, you can expect to see in more intensive spotlights from hereon in.

The Antigone Project EP is available now via Samla Music @ http://findiemerch.com/en/antigone-project-antigone-project/ and digitally @ http://dooweet.bandcamp.com/album/antigone-project

https://www.facebook.com/antigoneproject

RingMaster 07/01/2015

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Silhouettes – Sacrifice

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Following the success of their acclaimed debut album and recent UK shows, British indie/electro band Silhouettes release their new single Sacrifice on November 10th as a free download. Taken from the Ever Moving Happiness Machines full-length, the track is an inescapable temptation and weave of the imaginative electronic and indie pop revelry the band has swiftly become renowned for. It is a treat for ears and unashamedly seduces with every vocal caress and melodic kiss.

Formed in 2008, the Wolverhampton quintet of Nathan Till (vocals, guitars), Jay Cuthill (guitars, samples, keyboards, production), Ben Blewitt (keyboards), Ben Dargue (drums), and Jay Roberts (bass) has increasingly earned a potent following and attention for their sounds and live performances. Early EPs awoke many to their impressing emergence but it was the single Gold Tag which on a wave of new invention and evolution in the band’s sound sparked a broader spotlight, one subsequently pushed much further by Ever Moving Happiness Machines. It was an album which instantly lit a fire of attention which is bound to be stoked again by the release of Sacrifice.

Opening on a wash of warm and magnetic keys veined by resonating beats and pulsating shadows, the song brings an Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark air to its celestial blaze of electronic colour. It is a dramatic coaxing elevated once the celestial tones of Till merges with the sultry climate. His delivery shows it is unafraid to mix things up as the vocalist subsequently adds a little post punk shadow to his narrative. Haunting and bracing with a golden stream of sun fuelled melodic endeavour across its transfixing atmosphere, the song is as unpredictable and keenly inventive as it is persistently warm and mesmeric.

If Silhouettes’ album has evaded your attention until now there is no finer a gateway into its majesty than Sacrifice. It is a potent taste of what is in store within Ever Moving Happiness Machines but only a hint of its rich adventure.

Sacrifice is available as a free download from November 10th @ https://soundcloud.com/integrityrecords/silhouettes-sacrifice-single-edit

http://silhouettesmusic.net/

RingMaster 10/11/2014

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Mechatronic – Dystopia

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Though it might not be setting a blaze of originality, Dystopia the new album from Swedish synth pop band Mechatronic, is a rather charming and enjoyable encounter. It makes no demands and does not really stretch senses and imagination but the twelve- track release does offer a contagious embrace to make a very satisfying forty five minutes or so in its company.

Formed in 2002, Mechatronic consists of Wilhelm Äretun (vocals/programming) and Emma Hortlund (lyrics/synthesizers). Already under their belt the Uppsala duo has a couple of well-received albums in the shape of Promises From the Past and Dreams, of 2003 and 2012 respectively. Uniting synth and future pop into a brew which is as nostalgic as it is fresh, the band is now poised to work on feet and imagination, not forgetting attention, with the Space Race Records released Dystopia.

The album swiftly embraces ears and thoughts with opener Falling Apart, its atmospheric coaxing offering a chilled John Foxx enticing and very early Ministry like presence. The plain yet alluring vocals of Äretun add another enticing element to the start of the song, his tones flourishing further with the subsequent harmonies and energy the singer infuses into his delivery. With the synths shimmering vivaciously as they radiate infectiousness, the track leads the listener into a minimalistic but seriously catchy proposition which does not startle but certainly lights up a keen appetite for it and the album.

The strong start is easily surpassed by the following pair of Endless Search for Something and Don’t Bother to Knock. The first of the two songs strides with contagious manner and enterprise, electronic hooks and tantalising melodies enslaving the imagination whilst the vocals and their unfussy lyrics easily induce participation from its recipient. An enticing eighties breath again washes ears with elements of bands like Blancmange and Depeche Mode spicing up the temptation impressively laid down, an open familiarity enveloped with Mechatronic’s own invention to provide a riveting treat. Its successor brings a darker and more intensive weave of sound which comes wrapped in an elegant ambience of evocative melodies which swarm tenderly and provocatively over the senses. Once again, as with all tracks upon Dystopia, there is infectiousness to the song which makes a physical and emotional engagement with its magnetic persuasion very simple.

The title track comes next with an industrial seeded chill to its intriguing almost sinister aural narrative. This of course comes with another healthy dose of addictive hooks and sonic tempting which just adds to the fascinating texture and tapestry of the song. It is a potent mix of shadows and light, though for personal tastes it does not explore its darkest elements as deeply as wished, preferring to stay within the energetic pop invention of the band. It is nevertheless another twist in the presence of the release, as is Niagara, a flowing electronic waltz smothering ears is a warm and rapturous seduction. It is not the quickest persuasion on the album but turns out to be one of the most lingering and ultimately enthralling with thoughts and emotions.

Trapped in a Nightmare is another encounter to walk rich shadows musically and lyrically, a tempestuous atmosphere challenging the melodic flames glowing beneath. The song is a captivating proposal but lacks the spark and virulence of earlier songs. It still brings something inviting to the album though before the drama and intrigue of Sinister expands across the senses, its aspects living up to its name. There is a cinematic quality to the track, closing eyes bringing visions of black and white scenery around lone and lonely figures walking empty streets emotionally and physically, before a dead world erupts around them.

Across the sultry ambience and intimate emotions of Beyond the Silence and the exotically charming Broken Promises, band and album ignite a fresh wave of pleasure. The first is a sweeping seducing of picturesque melodies and suggestive sonic hues whilst the second dances with masterful simplicity and ridiculously captivating hooks. It is an outstanding romp which like the album is not trying to reinvent the scene but just give it a refreshing and joyful injection of fun. The same can be said of the next up Vicious Words, though despite being an accomplished and potently satisfying companion, it leaves no lasting impression unlike its persistent predecessor.

The album is completed by the electro pop flirtation of This Moment, a decent enough ear appeasing suasion, and the dystopian landscape of the predominantly instrumental Dying Together Isn’t Going to Solve Anything. Without setting fires, both make a fine end to an impressively engaging proposition. Dystopia is not without niggles, the over familiarity of some songs to supposed influences and between themselves the strongest question to cast over it, but Mechatronic tenaciously succeed with the self-same songs through their irrepressible contagion and melodic invention. It makes for an easy going and rewarding encounter which will successfully light up any day.

Dystopia is available now from Space Race Records @ http://www.poponaut.de/mechatronic-dystopia-p-13266.html?osCsid=9967e8061365165712433db6cdfea4cc

http://mechatronicmusic.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mechatronic/276209142393782

RingMaster 19/09/2014

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Sin Cos Tan – Blown Away

Sin Cos Tan by Vilhelm Sjöström

Sin Cos Tan by Vilhelm Sjöström

With a sound as bracing and compelling as the concept story behind its narrative, Blown Away the third album from synth pop band Sin Cos Tan is another tantalising proposition from the Finnish duo. Flourishing from the potent base set by its two critically acclaimed predecessors as well as the band’s ever increasing reputation through live shows and festival appearances, the new release adds another twist to the creative web of intrigue which comes from the exploratory minds behind the project.

Consisting of Villa Nah songwriter/vocalist Juho Paalosmaa and producer/DJ Jori Hulkkonen (Processory) who has also worked with the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Chris Lowe, Jose Gonzalez, and Tiga, Sin Cos Tan follow their 2012 self-titled debut and the following Afterlife a year later, with a different kind of adventure. The album is centred round the concept story of Michael Burana, a middle-aged American man facing a dead-end job and a failed marriage. “To turn his life around, Michael decides to take a trip to Mexico, where he soon discovers a new career opportunity: that of a drug courier between the United States and South America. Blown Away picks up from the sunny beaches of Mexico, and follows Michael’s journey of newfound excess, fast money and hedonism; all the way to the corrupted heart of the Colombian cartels. Forever chasing the elusive ‘American Dream’, Michael’s tale is the soundtrack of a world like no other.” The tale is enveloped in a mix of electro and synth pop with a shoegaze like ambience which caresses the senses with a melodic beauty whilst inciting imagination and feet to embark on their own instinctive exploits. Blown Away is a captivating journey which even with a few less successful moments for personal tastes makes for an unrelentingly enthralling proposition.

The story opens with Divorcee and warm waves lapping upon a balmy atmosphere over enticing melodies. It is not long before the similarly tender coaxing vocals of Paalosmaa, amidst an irresistible web of guitar enterprise and pulsating image002bass breath, adds further simmering heat to the instantly delicious song. It is the perfect pop song, every twist coming with unpredictable yet welcoming ideation and a warmly embracing infectiousness. There is an eighties air to the track too, thoughts of China Crisis and Paul Haig coming to the fore with hints as the opener lights up ears and emotions. Its success is not quite matched but superbly supported by the following pulsating stroll of Love Sees No Colour. With a slightly punchier urgency to its rhythmic intent and pungent electro canvas, the song colours thoughts with a sultry twang of guitar and expressive keys. There is an OMD essence to the song’s elegant melodic croon which in turn is given extra evocative texture and weight by horn like flames and the incessant stride romping through the middle of it all.

A New World brings a danger in its touch, shadows flirting with the draw of the keys and the persistently mellow and inviting vocals. The song is like a drive through a new landscape, fleeting glimpses of emotive hues and potent melodic colouring stalked by an intimidating breath offered by the bass tones stalking the track. It is a treat for the imagination, allowing thoughts to cast their own premise whilst keys and voice take care of ears with poise and temptation. It does not quite live up to the first pair but certainly outshines next up Colombia. The slow provocative nature of the song with growing melodies and inventive keys makes for an expansive investigation of the tale within the album but the singular vocal delivery of Paalosmaa falls short and lacks the spark shown previously and when effects wrap his tones elsewhere in the song. It is too much at odds with the music but nevertheless the song is an engaging encounter, though soon a distant memory through the great dances of Lifestyle and Traffic.

The first of the two is a festival of sonic colour and mouth-watering endeavour, rhythms a magnetic revelry and keys a refreshing breeze. As much as they impress and ignite ears, it is the anthemic blaze of the chorus with Paalosmaa back on compelling form which steals the passions. Like a familiar friend yet entirely new, the chorus is an irresistible lure which makes a masterful temper and compliment to the more reserved but lively sounds around it. The instrumental travelogue of Traffic bubbles from its first note; keys and beats an invigorated provocation within a wind of crystalline scenes and turns, all swiftly passing into new aural sights for ears and thoughts.

The darker tone and presence of Addiction is a thrilling combination of imposing shadows and ominous melodies but with the constantly inviting vocals and more sparkling melodies it all merges for an imposing and engrossing mix. Its successor Cocaine offers the darkest twist of the album, its noir kissed climate of brass and desperation edged vocals aligned to drama bred keys, a disturbed but again enthralling and scintillating provocation for senses and imagination.

The release is completed by firstly the John Foxx like title track, with its emotional chills and haunted air, before the emotionally raw and inflamed presence of Heart Of America brings its epilogue of reality to bear on story and thoughts. Both are gripping turns in the album and as singular incitements, bringing the excellent Blown Away to a tense and fascinating conclusion. Quite simply Sin Cos Tan works on all aspects of the listener with their latest proposition and leaves a lingering and blissfully full appetite in its wake.

Blown Away is available now in CD digipak, gatefold vinyl LP, and download formats via http://solinarecords.com/

http://sincostan.net

8.5/10

RingMaster 18/08/2014

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Machinista – Xenoglossy

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Having set a striking standard with their Arizona Lights EP barely five months ago, Swedish electro/synth pop band Machinista not only confirm the potency and potential of their sound with debut album Xenoglossy, but expand it with an even more rigorously captivating and enterprisingly inventive persuasion. Consisting of eleven tracks which are as boldly fresh and bred of a modern creative climate as they are seeded in an eighties nostalgia, the album is an irresistible blaze of electronic pop, quite simply persistent bait for body, imagination, and emotions to romp and bask in.

Machinista is the creation of Malmö/Kalmar based pair, vocalist/lyricist John Lindqwister (Cat Rapes Dog,Departementet, Basswood Dollies) and musician Richard Flow (ex.Vision Talk, Haze For Sale). Starting the project in the December of 2012 alongside their other bands, the duo instantly gripped attention and keen responses with a cover of David Bowie´s Heroes, which now closes up the new album. Its success and that of their first self-penned release, the single Molecules And Carbon, both accompanied equally appreciated videos, led to an eager spotlight soaking the band not only from fans but media too. Last year the band signed with the Juggernaut Music Group with the Arizona Lights EP their first release this past March. Recently and really before the dust of fervour around the EP could settle, Xenoglossy was uncaged to as mentioned not only reinforce their opening presence but cast a whole new mesmeric spell on the synth pop scene.

From the opening almost warning prod of first track Take Comfort In Being Sad ears and attention are wide awake breeding a just as immediate appetite. Punchy beats thump their coaxing next before keys relax into a melodic sway coveraround those persistently provocative textures. The equally as tantalising voice of Lindqwister is soon caresses the senses too around that jabbing rhythmic punctuation, the mix of forceful tempting and seductive soothing an enthrallingly magnetic proposition. As the song bounces along thoughts of The Cure, certainly vocally and in the shadowed essences which lurk within the bright sounds, and of A-ha musically make their suggestions. It is a masterful start swiftly matched by Arizona Lights. The second song casts a hazy yet crystalline ambience before eager beats and similarly feisty electronic grooves wrap around ears. As with the first track, and the majority of the album, there is a familiarity to the encounter but a recognisable spicing which only enhances the fun and potency of the offerings. Here a Thomas Dolby/Paul Haig like air makes hints as the song unveils its sparkling revelry.

Its lively presence and heart is followed by an initially more reserved and shadowed suasion through Molecules And Carbon, its first breath holding a melancholic spice before opening up into its own vivacious if still slightly reined in dance. Again it is hard to resist adding comparisons to Robert Smith and co, but it is only an appealing hue in the flowing imagination of Machinista. Though not as striking as its predecessors, the song satisfies a by now greed ridden appetite for the release before letting its outstanding successor, Salvation intrigue and seduce the passions. Sporting the irresistible charm and vibrancy of Landscape and poetic melodies of Zero-Eq, the track soars in elegance and beauty, keys and vocals a glowing smouldering climate to immerse in.

An industrial unpredictability and dark air brings the next up Summersault in to view, the track a stirring protagonist with military bred rhythms and an imposing atmosphere of stark and binding incitement. There is also the most vivid cinematic aspect to the song. Each track has that ability to work with the imagination visually it is fair to say but none as voraciously and enthrallingly as here. With drama clad keys and the ever impressing vocals, the song leaves thoughts reminded of Associates and in an evocative grasp before the equally thrilling Pushing The Angels Astray steps forward to sweep body and emotions to their feet for a perfect slice of synth pop. Melodies and hooks blaze away with harmonic resonance whilst rhythms steer the whole thing into the instinctive eagerness of feet and passions. It is the chorus where you lose self-control though, its contagion as toxic as a sunset and just as colourfully entrancing.

Ensuring that pinnacle is not a lone voice in what are nothing but peaks across Xenoglossy, next track Wasted sways and stomps with tenacious enterprise and pop infused vivacity. Featuring guest vocals from Toril Lindqvist of Alice in Videoland, the track is like a flaming collusion between OMD, Blancmange, and MiXE1, and ridiculously addictive. Maybe not quite as gripping but certainly a flavoursome and resourceful coaxing is Love And Hate Song. It has the unenviable task of following the two previous triumphs and does so with a unfussy and minimalistic march covered in a thick and enticing melodic weave which itself is coated in an unpredictable emotive suggestiveness. It is a gentle yet powerful tempting showing another strain of invention and intelligent variation to the album.

The closing stretch of the release is led by the heated emotion and climate of Crash. It is a strong and thought sparking encounter but lacks the spark of earlier tracks even with its Vangelis like flumes of epically honed melodies. It is also left looking pale sandwiched between the last song and slow burning success of The Blues And The Reds. Holding a feel of Pete Wylie to its provocative caress of electronic sound and floating harmonies, the song takes a while to warm up thoughts and emotions but does so to a lingering success.

Xenoglossy is completed by an excellent version of Heroes, and it is easy to see why the track made such a powerful impact with its band introducing release. The Eno/Bowie penned classic is not dramatically changed but given an insertion of electronic teasing and enterprise which brings new inescapable infectiousness to its charm. It finishes off the album in fine and thrilling style. With the fact that despite the praise it is also one of the weaker tracks on the album, it shows the might and impressive adventure across the whole release. Synth pop is an awakening inspiring genre it seems and it is fair to say that Machinista is destined to be one of its leading lights.

Xenoglossy is available now via Juggernaut Music Group @ http://music.juggernautservices.com/album/xenoglossy

http://www.machinistamusic.com/

9/10

RingMaster 08/08/2014

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Candy Says – Not Kings

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Not Kings, the debut album from UK electro-tinged pop collective Candy Says, is a bit of a puzzler but a mesmeric mystery you cannot help being entranced by. Minimalistic and lo-fi whilst wrapped in flourishes of melodic charm and seductive harmonies, the release tantalises and enthrals from start to finish but you end up wondering why the attraction does not spark a fire in the passions as successfully as it does in the imagination. Usually both go hand in hand and certainly at times the band offer a fuse which is just irresistible but the ebbing and flowing of the album seems to escape a constant supply of that rich reaction. Nevertheless Not Kings is an absorbing flight of sound and adventure which increases its temptation with every venture.

Candy Says is the project of lead vocalist/guitarist Juju Sophie and keyboardist/vocalist Ben Walker, a duo from Oxford who sparked strong attention with a pair of sold out cassette singles via Cool For Cats last year. Recorded entirely in the garage of lead vocalist Juju Sophie’s bungalow, Not Kings confirms all the promise of and buzz around the band and even without setting a blaze inside, gives potent evidence of the real potential of the pair.

The title track gets things in motion with an initial coaxing of handclaps and restrained electro caressing. It is a welcoming start but one a4253926693_2which is pale until the sirenesque tones of Juju Sophie lay their warm glances and bewitching charm over ears and imagination respectively. Like a hint to the album as a whole, the song laps over ears like a gentle sea, its aural waves coming and going in strength and relish to offer a persistent suasion which captures thoughts with ease. There are no climactic moments or startling textures to the track just an on-going inviting glaze of synth and vocals aligned to magnetic surges of guitar. It makes for an intriguing proposition with plenty to spark an appetite for the release, a taste soon reinforced by the delightful Favourite Flavour. As the first its touch is reserved and tender without raising a temperature but like a summer breeze the song swarms around and engages the senses with perpetual ease and warmth. The backing tones of Walker add another texture to the golden voice of Juju Sophie whilst musically the song brings potent adventure to instantly lift the profile of the album.

The following C’est Pas Comme Ca is a provocative folk tinged slice of balladry pop with a sixties voice to its seductive temptation which continues the strong and varied start to the album. There is drama and evocative emotion to its absorbing sounds and harmonies whilst the vocals which already guarantee a seductive embrace to the album make no exception here or in the next up Lord’s Mistake. The fourth track is the first major peak of the release; its funk bred stroking of guitar immediate contagious bait which is enhanced by the vocals and the eager dance of the keys. Like a mix of The Mouth Of Ghosts, Tom Tom Club, and Propaganda, the song is a glorious vivacious stroll with more colour and richly exciting hues than the previous trio of songs put together.

Hummingbird graces ears and air next, its pungent beats and fluid keys a potent canvas for the vocals of the band members to contrast and unite in a poetic painting which smooches and flirts with the imagination. There is an additional celestial tone to the ambience of the song which adds to the vivid incitement of the imagination, as most of the tracks achieve, but like its predecessor the croon also works as potently on the passions.

Both the resourceful dance bred Dreamers and the similarly sculpted Melt Into The Sun provide a pleasing presence to immerse within but neither explore the emotions beyond mere satisfaction either even with their superbly crafted and intricate weaves of synths and harmonies whilst Chad straight after unveils a captivating atmosphere of melodic reflection over a rich evocative palette but again that earlier mentioned spark which certainly is burning feverishly in the likes of Favourite Flavour and Lord’s Mistake merely smoulders.

The simultaneously melancholic and vivacious Dead On Arrival brings the release back to an irresistible peak; its sultry climate and emotional elegance an invigorating infection upon the woven scenery of flowing keys and vociferous and alternately mellow vocals, Juju Sophie once more revealing the quality and depth of her voice.

A wonderfully dark and seductive tempting wraps the following Understand The Night, its noir kissed Parisian shadows under street lamp spotlights another enthralling premise to bask in and investigate. It is impossible to resist, leaving a lingering call from the album which the inviting but underwhelming Cool Sensation cannot match. To be fair the song shimmers and lures like a summer soaked lake, its surface a refreshing glow but its depths lack the potency to take the listener into deeper waters of pleasure, an issue the closing Camilla has no problem with. The best track on the album with ease, it makes a gentle offering initially though the vocals have a greater power and passion to them than previously found on the album. It is a striking and lip licking entrance which only deepens its potency with the restrained but wholly infectious almost anthemic stroll of the chorus. The track goes from strength to strength the more it courts ears and thoughts, harmonies and keys alone smouldering kindling to the respectfully flaming heart and expression of the outstanding encounter.

If the album was full of songs like the last it would be a certain classic, but it has enough to make itself a tremendously appealing treat which sounds better the more you venture within it. As we said at the start, the passions might not be set ablaze by Candy Says but the imagination is happily fired up which can only lead to a solid recommendation for Not Kings.

Not Kings is available now digitally, on cd, and on vinyl @ http://candysays.bandcamp.com/album/not-kings

http://candysays.it/

7.5/10

RingMaster 09/05/2014

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