Much of the electropop releases of recent times seem to reflect the odd and often turbulent culture that we’re currently living in. In particular, the inescapable grasp of social media which seems to be so ingrained in everyday life that it’s tough to imagine living outside of the digital world.
EmT’s latest release, Electrical Medicine, slots into that particular niche of social commentary, coupled with an ear for dynamic synth-pop tunes. Formed back in 2014, EmT are a London-based electronic duo consisting of Ema Walter and Tony Blue. Their 2017 debut album Resolute drew praise for smart synth-pop tunes such as ‘Walk away’, ‘Addiction’ and the lounge pop appeal of ‘Regret’.
Electrical Medicine is an album that EmT view as more of “a cohesive package” in comparison to Resolute. Under the masterful hand of producer Tim Dorney (Republica, Tin Gun, Sinestar), the songs here definitely have a sharpness and a pop to them. But how does the music shape up against EmT’s earlier outings?
Certainly on the strength of ‘Diva’ (which TEC reviewed previously), we were offered an impressive outing that suggested good things for the album ahead. At the same time, EmT don’t seem content to stick to any one particular template or style. Electrical Medicine throws in a lot of different approaches, or as Tony Blue conceptualises it, “It has a bit of an arc.”
On that basis, the sci-fi soundscape of opener ‘Intro (Robot’s Lament)’ perhaps serves to throw the listener off base. The flat, robotic vocal which delivers a narrative revolving around “A.I. struggling with its perceived humanity”, is a little disconcerting measured against the warm electronic rhythms that underpin it.
‘DNA’ delivers a more angular affair with big percussive moments and an alluring vocal care of Ema Walter. Offering up some musings on neurodiversity, the song has a wonderfully dense electropop solidity to it.
Sometimes, the album offers up unexpected subtle pleasures, such as the lush ‘Undecided’ which showcases Ema Walter’s impressive vocal talents (“Are you in my head?”). The song also utilises a little throwaway vocal line from Walter that Tim Dorney kept as a melodic hook in the song. Its simple details like this that manage to make some of the songs on Electrical Medicine really jump out.
There’s still plenty of pure pop moments at work here, including the squelchy goodness of ‘Voices’. There’s also the dreamscape workings of ‘Feel Me’, which seems to harken back to the electropop simplicity of Resolute. Here, there’s a sultry quality to Walter’s vocal, while the synth foundations have a sturdy, beefy quality to them.
Equally, there’s a brooding quality to ‘Disciples, a composition whose lyrics deal with themes of cults and being “fundamentally broken”. It calls to mind the likes of Nature Of Wires with Walter’s delivering a more muscular vocal approach.
There’s a more playful feel to ‘Connect With Me’, a sparkling, stylish number that keeps its various elements simple – but does a lot with those elements. At the same time, there’s more emotive offerings, such as the understated fragile beauty of ‘Vulnerability’ (“Don’t give me space to breathe”).
‘Diva’ offers up strident electropop with engaging melodic hooks, synth strings and the wonderful delivery of Ema Walters’ venomous commentary (“Attention-seeking nobody”). It also features some fine guitar work from Pete Steer (Tenek, Tin Gun and Sinestar). Describing the song as being about the “fakery of social media, vacuous reality TV ‘stars’ and the selfie-centred, self-obsessed”, the song offers one of Electrical Medicine’s best moments.
There’s also an intriguing slice of commentary on ‘This Was Your Life’, a bold electropop composition that explores the concept of recycling 80s music with a critical eye (“Don’t go back/And don’t rewind”). There’s a nice muscular feel to this number, which at times seems to call to mind the likes of Propaganda with its bold vocal statements.
Closing things out, the brooding ‘Disassociation Blues’ is a strangely mesmerising affair that serves up a spoken vocal from Walter. It’s a more personal, intimate composition that boasts soaring synth soundscapes with an engaging warmth and provides a suitable bookend to the album.
Electrical Medicine builds on EmT’s reputation for astute electropop, but also throws in some new ideas and perhaps a softer, more reflective quality on some tracks which will find favour with the more discerning listener.
Electrical Medicine is out on digital services 3rd September and other formats 17th September 2021.
EmT will be performing as part of Sinestar’s final gig on 8th January 2022 at The Fleece, Bristol: https://www.facebook.com/events/346727230024890