Best track: our lives
click album cover to listen
the less dead
'i didn't call'
It wasn't long ago that I became acquainted with 'The Less Dead', introduced to his cinematic sounds at random to say the least. When asked if I could give any of it a play on the show, I had a tough time working out how to let him down gently. But the man behind the project, 'Gareth Perkins' is certainly not one to give up, instead opting to view my rejection as the beginning of a new direction in to synthwave.
Heck, the man even made the opening theme to the radio show itself, naming it after me (yes yess I get it...I'm not usually one to brag but on this occasion, having a song made and then named after you is a pivotal moment in ones fledging music hobby). The song also features on his first album 'Off Chance', which again mostly consists of big and bold cinematic records.
So what can you expect from 'I Didn't Call'? The first track 'Sensible Children' gives you absolutely no indication of the direction of this set of tracks, in fact it has 'interlude' written all over it and I would encourage you to ignore any feelings of apprehension and opt to sit down and buckle up ready for 'Headlights'. Gareth was apprehensive about his vocals when he was working on this album but I want to take this opportunity to tell him that from now on, he should have no more concerns! They're courageous and resolute and totally match the gallant sound in this track. The intro is also peppered with wonderful pings of the guitar strings. A real nod to some of those 80's California crime dramas.
The mood takes a proverbial nosedive in 'Lonely Boys Club', the long-awaited collaboration with 'Millennium Falck'. It's masked in bitter-sweet smacks to the feels and prompts romantic blockbusters aplenty to the mind, conjuring scenes of a male protagonist staring in to the abyss on a rainy night. 'Jaffar' then pays homage to the foundations of 'The Less Dead' with ambitious base and lofty tones that really build until the vivid drums declare themselves with a proper wallop.
The titular track, despite being slightly underwhelming does give Gareth another chance to showcase his impressive vocals. It's then the turn of 'Pretty X Cute' to give us a gentle mind-jog to some of the earlier songs from 'The Less Dead' and part of me is quietly confident that the intro to this track is potentially an alternative version of 'Entropy' from his first album. Just a hunch. No more. No less.
We're approaching the end of the album but there's a suprise in store in the form of 'Our Lives'. It's tragically beautiful and immediately makes me want to go on a shoegaze rampage and get absolutely sh*t-faced on some 'Cocteau Twins'. Despite the track not being conventional synthwave, the vocals are dreamy and the passive tempo make this perfect listening if you want to lower that heart rate and simply switch off. I'm usually put off by the use of voice clips in music but I can honestly declare that I'm not irritated by the ones scattered throughout. Spoiler alert...Gareth uses them alot!
Now I will remind you once more that this isn't a full-bodied synthwave compilation which unfortunately is always going to hinder my rating (and BOO to you too), but I will also remind you that 'The Less Dead' is an aspiring musician with obvious talents in music creation. This album features a number of songs that in many senses are opposite to one another, yet they all have that little something that has become synonymous with his work. Anyone that can go from boundless immensity to truly heartbreaking sadness without a moments thought, MUST be capable of scaling truly immeasurable places in music. And I think we've found our first explorer right here, go gentle into that good night you colossal genius you!
8/10 Joe Ward