Life’s a Mystery to me
During the current Covid-19 crisis, artists are continually exploring new ways to create and showcase their music. Not surprisingly, with the live circuit effectively on hold, that means focussing more on writing and production.
With many other artists similarly restricted by the lockdown, these limitations can sometimes spawn some collaborations – and occasionally with an intriguing combination of talents.
One of the outfits to emerge during this turbulent period is Agency-V, a 3-piece that features Marie Williamson, Lloyd Price and Peter Steer who bring all their various musical abilities to bear on new EP No Divide.
Lloyd Price is already an established artist on the electronic music scene, notably through the lush tunes of The Frixion (which also features the vocal talents of Gene Serene). That outfit embraced a darker approach to synth-pop, but also one that breathed with a warmer, very human quality.
This collaborative effort had, apparently, been an idea that Price had been discussing with Peter Steer (Tenek) for a while. Steer has been busy himself with plans for new Sinestar releases as well as other projects where his guitar skills have been in high demand (including mystery combo Tin Gun). For Agency-V, that lends the whole affair a grittier, rock element to its overall sound.
The last vital element of Agency-V’s unique sound is the vocal talents of Marie Williamson (AfterDark). Here, there’s a curious balance between both a soft and darker quality to Williamson’s singing. Previously, Williamson has embraced an equal love for both electronic and rock tunes, with her influences including the likes of Depeche Mode, The Cure, Erasure and even Green Day. On that basis, her beguiling vocal talents dovetails perfectly into Agency-V’s approach.
Coincidently, both Williamson and Price had also been discussing ideas about working together, but the sum total of all three talents here gives Agency-V a strong foundation.
‘Never Meant To Be’, which opens the EP, has a muscular quality underpinned by some busy guitar work folded into the mix. Synth melodies drop in at appropriate points giving the composition a feast of contrasts. Meanwhile, Williamson’s vocals have a deceptively soft edge that hides an emotional punch through lines such as “Is this really over now?/So blind we cannot see”.
On ‘Paranoid’ there’s more of a synth-pop polish contrasted with some robust percussion elements. There’s an intense quality to this outing offset by some thumping beats. Equally, ‘Some Kind of Game’ plays around with synth melodies and easy rhythmic touches. Here, Williamson’s vocals present a smoky, soulful appeal.
Closing things out, ‘This Time’ goes for a bigger, brasher approach. It’s easily the best track on the EP with its bold electropop delivery. Urgent synth hooks battle with hard-edged guitar licks while Williamson’s vocals ring out loud and proud (“Don’t mess up, this time/There’s no divide”).
Ideas for a followup EP are, apparently, already in play. But on their first outing, Agency-V have demonstrated a confident set of hands on the wheel that will satisfy those with a taste for electro rock belters.
No Divide is out now.