xennon

'miami cop'

Best track: the visit

click album cover to listen

cast your minds back to to first half of the noughties. pop-punk was rife, kerrang was a thing and bands like 'simple plan' were actually taken seriously, if but for a fleeting moment. much like all genres, they have their time in the spotlight and then piss off like that cyclist that just had the audacity to give you the middle finger and not back it up.

the vocals on this guy bring it all back in a heartbeat to merge them with synthwave takes some doing. has it paid off? mostly yes, there's no doubt his vocals will be frowned upon by some, but for this guy, they're a double-dose of notalgic pleasure.

and now on to the album, 'miami cop' and it's artwork are so cliched but what even is that in this crazy little thing called synthwave?! travis wright has cast a wonderful 80s cyberpunk twist to the norm and i for one really like it. the opening track titled 'miami beach chase' has a tempo to match the suggestive title and the heavy use of cowbell gives a feeling of italo-disco. christopher walken would be proud! it was probably the best choice of an opener as many of the tracks on this compilation are long...and I'm not talking 'Bohemian-rhapsody' long...yep...I'm talking 'purple rain' long.

'flashback to holly' is an upbeat track with a pretty simplistic structure and was actually released many moons before this album was released. we are then blasted with a huuuge intro in the track 'a new enemy' which uses similar synths to 'le groupe fantastique' in their track 'criminal records'. the ultimately slow tempo really allows the synths to explode everytime they're played. i felt a real sadness whilst listening to this track and i was once more reminded of some of the disheartening pop-punk material from the likes of 'the academy is', 'yellowcard' and 'hoobastank'. i guess these low feelings can only be down to the power radiating throughout the song as well as the grieving lyrics of love and loss...it's unfortunate partner in crime.

the pick of the lot is probably 'the visit'. it's bouncy and uplifting, well-layered and the female vocals add a nice dimension. 'the broken man; is an in your face instrumental with another huge introduction. My fear about this track is regarding the number of people that might skip to the next track due to it's longevity, plus the fact that it feels too experimental. I hope they don't as the bulk of the track is a pretty sweet cybersynth number and echoes the sort of thing you might hear from 'waveshaper'.

probably the biggest suprise on this album for me was the awesome outro. i'm not usually one for snippets of old-school animation peppered throughout tracks but with the truly horrifying synth bass accompanied by helicopter and sirens in the background, i really felt like my mind was walking in to a crime scene. but the suprise didn't end there! A track that starts out truly sinisterly and ominous, manages to finish with a cheerful flourish. and you don't even recognise that it's happening! again that might be down to the length of the track and the fact the change is extremely gradual, but it's a magnificent feature to end with on your debut album.

overall, this will appeal to lovers of cybersynth and the lighter end of darksynth. infact there's even some minutes made here for those of you who prefer your synthwave to have a more commercial 'pop' to it. it's a very full-blooded production with a good balance of tones and percussion. it tells a story albeit a sad one, and yet you can't help but feel this sadness is merely masking a happy musician who has found his sense of purpose and letting it explode with a flamuoyant elation. it doesn't feel rushed in any way and as i mentioned before, it would be a suitable set of tracks to introduce to someone still signed up to kerrangs' magasine subscription. 8/10 Joe ward

                       

a visual representation of the album: