Synthpoppers Sinestar return with their blistering third album…
Since forming in 2011, Bristol-born Sinestar have released 3 EPs entitled I am the Rain (2012), Hope and Prey (2013), Running Home (2014) and single ‘The Same Way’.
Now, exhibiting a firm staying power with sights in mind, rising above expectations and going beyond any given boundaries, creative or otherwise, A Million Like Us, their third and very latest album, is potentially a nominee for one of the key releases of 2018 – and not to be missed. Simply put, it’s an iconic offering that is set to be a must listen for many electronic music enthusiasts; the fact it dips into so many areas mean that as an album, it rarely misses a trick. Yet the fact it’s so incredibly stylised suggests it’s completely original – the sum of the parts delivering a consistent and weighty offering – electronic through and through – with twelve, mostly standout, tracks.
Although very difficult to liken them to any one artist, such expansive layers within the compositions themselves open up a diverse mix of potential influence, and granted, there’s plenty of echoes ranging from classic Synth Britannia to 1990s club anthems and beyond, and if that isn’t diverse enough, then try the reggae inspired ‘Smiling On The Inside’ – from the vocal straight through to its reverberated beats, the influence tastes as strong as a good rum. Synth washes are subtle in the background and are just enough to give it the necessary wrapping for its electro environment. ‘Testify’ momentarily has a touch of Ultravox’s ‘Hymn’, and a splash of Erasure while ‘Train Of Broken Dreams’ hurtles along the tracks right into the noughties. And given that Peter Steer of Tenek fame has joined the project, there is of course some obvious DNA in the mix; no surprise that Peter’s input on guitar and backing vocals is superb.
The opener and title track ‘A Million Like Us’ introduces itself as a tuneful, contemporary singalong with expansive hints from the dancefloor. It issues its stamp of individuality by merging modern-day vocal experiments against the dry ice and strobes. Urging towards the even more contemporary is ‘Recognise Me’, a track that settles into a fairly sedate, yet pleasing pop effort, before the mid-section is suddenly a shimmering assemblage of sounds – there are many waves that fill the space, so much so you can almost hear this simplistic template reworked as an intricate orchestral piece.
Above the parapet dares to come the urgency of ‘Lie On Lie’; think edgy guitars and slightly sinister synth while ‘A Moment Of Silence,’ presents an illustration of some of the finest production, with its fluid, intelligent form and travelling spirit. So many aspects of this track interact brilliantly and are perfectly harmonised, be it the beautifully cultivated piano sound and the space it occupies in the mix; subtle but magical with just the right amount of gentle melancholy, or, the lift created with the electro punctuation. Then there’s the vocal interplay set into the electronic expanse, teamed with its hypnotic wash of guitar break – a pure sea of emotion. Overall, it creates a tenderness you can almost cradle.
Elements of ‘Sea Of Dreams’ could emerge straight from a relaxation CD with its iridescent passages of beauty. It’s an enchanting backdrop that rises out of the mist with shimmering swathes of light and a picking up of tidal pace. It’s not alone in that ‘The Reason’ ebbs and flows along similar lines, for those who appreciate the more sedate side of Sinestar’s personality.
‘A Second In Your Arms’ is another nod to the anthemic and contains traces of Tenek and Soft Cell while ‘The Preacher’ is nothing short of exhilarating. The formula fuses masses of energy with an athletic bassline, a big tuneful chorus – one of immense vitality – and once again, those effective vocal contrasts really come into play. Finally, being placed firmly in energetic mode brings us to ‘Erotic Hypnotica’ – it’s a statement track that’s upfront and dynamic, doing everything possible to raise the temperature. Essential grit adds to its tough exterior, courtesy of a hugely effective guitar underlay against a positive flurry of notes from the keyboard – yet another huge chorus and consistent beat that works to maximum effect.
Interestingly, there are by far more ‘A’ sides than ‘B’ sides on this album, leaving one rather spoilt for choice in terms of single selection. That said, ‘The Preacher’, ‘Erotic Hypnotica’ and ‘A Moment of Silence’ would surely be worthy contenders given they’re immensely discernible tracks.
It’s always a notable achievement when an artist can morph influences, styles, fashions and even decades, and in addition, do it so well that the result is both seamless and original. Arguably this is what A Million Like Us does best; the result – a colourful, if not blinding fusion of modern European electro-pop that fuses the melodic and the exhilarating electronic with a modernistic dance-ability that is surely worthy of any night spot on the block. Much to the band’s credit, there are many moments of unique vocal arrangements here that create celebrated climaxes; big choruses that resonate strongly with melody and eloquently coupled with subtle effect, creating some diverse dimensions and excellent juxtaposition. It’s an interesting mood board derived from a palette so obviously close to the heart – enthusiasts of the genre won’t be disappointed.
A Million Like Us is out now on Conzoom Records.