The show will soon begin…
With Vogon Poetry’s last studio album release, 2018’s Life, the Universe and Everything (see The Electricity Club review previously), the Swedish outfit demonstrated a particular flair for combining engaging electropop with sci-fi themes. Certainly tunes such as the excellent ‘Dangers In Space’, the brooding ‘The Upside Down’ and the Jarre-esque melodies of ‘Heart Of Gold’ showed a talent for composition that took Vogon Poetry beyond any mere novelty act.
Consisting of Roger Tell, Daniel Önnerby and John Andersson, the trio have been in action since 2012. They’ve previously cited the likes of IAMX, Yazoo, S.P.O.C.K. and Elegant Machinery as influences, but there’s something undeniably unique about Vogon Poetry’s style, a quality which tends towards uplifting, engaging electronic tunes.
The latest Vogon Poetry offering continues that trend with Deep Thought, an album packed with synth-pop delights that bounce between euphoric pop and more introspective moments. Certainly, there’s a stately and muscular quality to album opener ‘My Way Out’ which explores themes of escape (and takes inspiration from dystopian narrative The Maze Runner).
As ever, the Swedish outfit draw some inspiration from Douglas Adams’ classic radio/TV/book series The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. It’s reflected in the album’s title (which is actually a super-powerful computer in HHGTTG) and also on the track ‘Milliways’.
You might think that the band had tapped out that particular well of inspiration, but instead ‘Milliways’ serves up what is arguably one of Deep Thought’s best tracks. The legendary ‘Restaurant at the End of the Universe’ forms a pivotal location in Douglas Adams’ sprawling space opera. Here, that theme is transformed into an effective synth-pop groove – and possibly some pointed commentary on our current cultural crisis.
‘Passion’ originally appeared on the joint EP that Vogon Poetry produced with Electric City Cowboys (see Electricity Club review previously). “It was initially more of an experiment on how stripped down and monotone we could make a track” comments the band on the track, “still preserving the feeling we wanted.”
Even with that stripped back approach, there’s a warmth to ‘Passion’ which seems to be an apt summing up of the song’s themes. Incidentally, the video for the track was conjured up when the band asked people to share their own passions with them on short video clips.
Elsewhere, ‘Exposed Thoughts’ has a breezy, engaging air to it. But despite its seemingly simplicity, it’s a track that manages to stay with you. A lot of that is down to John Andersson’s impassioned vocal delivery on lines such as “When you’re sad, when you cry, when you’re in pain/All I want is to hold you again”. Meanwhile, the composition’s driving synth rhythms still manage to give ‘Exposed Thoughts’ a curiously dynamic quality.
In fact, there’s a few moments on Deep Thought where Vogon Poetry employ a more considered approach to arrangement and composition that delivers some of the album’s stealthier successes. As an example, ‘Barren Lands’ is a slow-burning affair (inspired by Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel Dune) whose subtle melodies deliver some effective spiced-up synth-pop.
That more mature approach to songwriting is something also reflected in compositions such as ‘Changes’, where there’s a slower, more thoughtful approach to arrangement and melody with some heartfelt vocal delivery via John Andersson.
As ever, Vogon Poetry don’t stray far from their science fiction inspirations. ’The Nightflyer’ serves up a squelchy sample-packed banger that’s much brasher and busier than the rest of Deep Thought’s content. It draws from a slightly more obscure inspiration here, in this case an adaptation of George RR Martin’s (Game Of Thrones) novella Nightflyers. Much of the samples are drawn from the Netflix adaptation of the story. To be blunt, it wasn’t the best of adaptations, but Vogon Poetry’s talents somehow give this track all of the drama and intrigue that the Netflix offering lacked.
A similar workout is delivered on ‘Xenomorph’, here pulling from James Cameron’s iconic 1986 film Aliens. The mood here is darker, with brooding synth melodies and rhythms giving the composition more of a retro feel that’s in keeping with the inspirations it pulls from.
The album concludes with the quieter tones of ‘Changes’, which had originally featured on the Changelings EP which emerged at the start of 2020. “‘Changes’ is a moody track about all the choices we have faced in life” suggests the band on the song’s genesis, “and perhaps also regret we never made and the paths we had to choose between which took us to where we are today.”
‘Changes’ is a track with some emotional weight to it, particularly in the impassioned delivery by Andersson on lines such as “Let the memories burn/And never look back”.
Their latest album shows Vogon Poetry on fine form with a perfect balance between euphoric electropop and more intimate, heartfelt moments. While they maintain their science fiction themes and inspirations, it never threatens to dominate their style and approach (but certainly offers rewards for those familiar with the genre). It also arrives in an eye-catching black-on-black sleeve design care of Daniel Önnerby.
Deep Thought delivers the well-crafted effective synth-pop that you would expect from Vogon Poetry, but also tinged with a more mature approach to composition that shows a band moving forward.
Deep Thought is out now.