Dancepop delights from the grassroots electronic scene…
The domestic electronic music scene has been rapidly evolving in recent years as the next generation of musicians step up with their own approach to synthpop. This can take many forms, often taking influences from a broader range of artists than simply the classic period of the 1980s. Or simply crafting effective electronic music from good melodies and rhythms.
Emerging from the Leicester music scene, Caroline McLavy has a background in running rehearsal rooms in her home city for a number of years. Although she’s used to working with rock outfits, her heart was always drawn to the more electronic end of the musical spectrum.
Electrostatic came together over a long period of time and features 11 tracks that revolve around traditional themes such as relationships, anxiety issues and frustration. As an album, it’s peppered with synth hooks, emotive melodies and simply good danceable rhythms.
Co-produced with Richard Henderson, Electrostatic’s main direction is simple solid electropop. But at times there’s a much more subtle use of music composition at work. There’s a clever use of counter melodies in places and a sharp ear for the use of additional electronic elements at the right spots.
The album opens with the effective electronic dance pop of ‘Constant Pain’ which features an insistent synth melody on top of chugging electropop rhythms.
‘I’ll Take my Chances’ opens up with Blue Monday-esque percussion for an engaging slice of synthpop. Meanwhile, there’s more of an emotional punch to ‘This Is Not My Life’, a more reflective track that’s built around synthetic strings and some beefed up percussion.
McLavy dips back into dancepop for ‘Miss Perfect’, which apparently deals with McLavy’s frustrations in living with various housemates over the years. There’s a nice use of vocal melodies at work on this track alongside buzzy synth rhythms.
‘Signals’ addresses the confusion over the conflicting signals people can give off with a track that’s built around throbbing bass beneath a busy electronic collage.
There’s a good combination of classic electronic elements on Electrostatic alongside often alongside lyrics that can embody the mundane aspects of life. At points, it’s reminiscent of ‘lost’ synthpop outfit Macondo who mastered the art of good tunes and wry humour.
This is particularly evident on tracks such as ‘I Lied’, which has a much more classic electronic arrangement with its icy synth melody and busy electronic delivery.
The puzzles of relationships are explored in the bossa-nova beats of ‘Where Did I Go Wrong’, which has a nice subtle melodic appeal to it.
Album closer ‘The Calm Before the Storm’ has a deceptively low-key opening with a 2-note synth tune before opening up with a driving bass synth rhythm. It’s a curious number with its ambiguous lyrics (apparently to do with a visit from the bailiffs!) but also one of the best cuts on the album.
Electrostatic isn’t necessarily breaking new ground, but in a very competitive scene of emerging synthpop artists, McLavy has produced an album of good, serviceable pop tunes that manage to stand on their own.
Silicon Dreams is an electronic music festival taking place at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall Music Room and will feature performances from Parralox, Avec Sans, Future Perfect, Berlyn Trilogy, Caroline McLavy and Voi Vang. More details: www.silicondreams.org.uk.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.