Don’t forget your towel…
The latest offering from synthpop outfit Vogon Poetry continues the Swedish band’s flair for accessible electronic music and science fiction themes. Life, the Universe and Everything marks the band’s third album release, following on from 2014’s Don’t Panic and The Prefect Stories in 2015.
Vogon Poetry themselves have been doing the rounds since 2012. Consisting of Roger Tell, Daniel Önnerby and John Andersson, the trio have previously cited the likes of IAMX, Yazoo, S.P.O.C.K and Elegant Machinery as influences.
As both the band’s name (and album titles) suggest, the Swedish outfit draw a lot of their inspiration from Douglas Adams’ classic radio/TV/book series The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. On that basis, their choice of name seems a bit misplaced. In HHGTTG, the Vogons are an officious alien species ultimately responsible for the destruction of Earth (to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, naturally), but are more notable for their poetry which is regarded as “the third worst poetry in the universe”.
So the question here, as HHGTTG aficionados might ask, is the new album hoopy or is it Belgium?
Pulling its inspiration from the cult TV series Stranger Things, ‘The Upside Down’ has hints of Blade Runner-era Vangelis in the mix. There’s a rugged quality to the rhythmic percussion underpinning the track and it serves as an effective intro number.
Taking inspiration from Alien prequel movie Prometheus, ‘Dangers In Space’ (which also drops in samples from the film) has a crunchy, percussive quality to it. Andersson’s vocals have an effective urgency to them, lending the whole affair a thrill-paced delivery. ‘Dangers In Space’ preceded the album as a release and also came complete with a video (directed by Jonas Wolcher) inspired by old school sci-fi visuals.
‘Heart Of Gold’, which again has lyrical themes drawn from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, offers up some Jarre-style melodic riffs. Elsewhere, ‘Spacewalk’ opts for a more punchy electropop approach with its busy layers of synth melodies and electronic effects.
Vogon Poetry add their own polish for a cover of S.P.O.C.K classic ‘In Space No One Can Hear You Scream’. A busy, burbling synth foundation builds up a strident piece of synthpop – one which seamlessly fits into the album as a whole.
Meanwhile, ‘Serenity’ throws a nod to the classic cult series Firefly. Samples from the feature film outing of Joss Whedon’s sci-fi/western mashup are weaved into this instrumental number, which also throws a few touches of Kraftwerk into its clean, electronic lines.
Closing the album, there’s a hint of Erasure on ‘Tomorrow’ with its subtle silky synths (For those purchasing the Bandcamp version, it also includes an exclusive remix of the track by Glenn Main).
In a hectic electronic music scene, it’s often refreshing to see a band adopting a quirky approach to synthpop, yet steering clear of falling into novelty band territory. Life, the Universe and Everything boasts some effective synthpop and is a continuing demonstration of Sweden’s rich electronic music culture.
Life, the Universe and Everything is out now.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.