With winter looming on the horizon, an opportunity to pore over a collection of tunes – which also includes some TEC favourites of old. Whether you like your music to be euphoric pop or more reflective moments, there’s something for everyone here. TEC’s selections here also serve as a reminder that the creative community that makes up the electronic music scene is still as surprising and vibrant as ever.
BOO – Nightclub Mishap
Battery Operated Orchestra have kept something of a low profile since 2020’s excellent Yesterday Tomorrow and You album (see TEC review previously), briefly returning last year with the quirky pop of single ‘Service Economy’.
For those that are missing BOO’s particular electronic pop musings, ‘Nightclub Mishap’ makes things up this year with this gloriously neon-charged slice of indie synth-pop. Brigitte Rose’s distinctive clipped vocal seems to throw a bit of a nod to Lene Lovich in a tale of clubbing misadventures. She’s a “sneaky tiger on the run” here, battling against fluorescent claustrophobia.
‘Nightclub Mishap’ has a bright, classic synth-pop sheen that has enough hooks to inspire you to return to the dance floor.
FREEZEPOP – Babes
US synth-pop outfit Freezepop dial things down a bit with the lush, pastel melodies of ‘Babes’, their latest maxi-single following on from 2020’s stunning Fantasiser album (which was TEC’s album of the year at the time).
It’s always surprising to remember that Freezepop have been tooling away at the electronic pop coalface since 1999, making them something of a veteran act. Since then, the synth-pop outfit have spent those years honing and perfecting their wistful and witty approach to synth compositions.
‘Babes’ continues that tradition with a number that pulls in synthwave flavours with an oddly yearning lyrical narrative “because the world never behaves”. Originally dreamt up as a B-side track, the song is built up from those warm synths that Freezepop delivered so well on Fantasiser. There’s always something vital and human lurking at the heart of their compositions and the dreamlike moods of ‘Babes’ is a perfect jumping on point for those yet to experience the Freezepop effect.
MARTYN BAILEY – Brink
The sweeping synth-pop of Martyn Bailey’s latest outing seems reminiscent of the melancholic compositions of a-ha. ‘Brink’ plays around with themes that delve into the struggles of mental health, anxiety and depression (“And the state that I’m in I’m losing control/And I’m so damn lost I sense I’m fading away”), yet also reaches upwards with the strength to rise above.
There’s certainly something special about Bailey’s vocal abilities (see TEC previously) which here soar across this strings-infused number with a wistful power. ‘Brink’ serves up another example of Bailey’s talents ahead of forthcoming album Melodies Of A Dream Thief which is due out later this year.
KAT BRYAN – Centre of the Earth
Canadian singer-songwriter Kat Bryan draws inspiration from acts such as Nils Frahm, Sigur Rós, and Imogen Heap. Signed to AnalogueTrash, ‘Centre of the Earth’ represents Bryan’s third single release for the label ahead of the release of debut album Music for the End of the World.
Bryan brings a folksy charm to her compositions albeit with a darker, moodier quality. ““My musical aesthetic is about darkness” suggests Bryan, “but it is about the beauty that is found in that darkness.” It’s not surprising therefore to learn that her recent work was driven by the unsettling period of the COVID pandemic. ‘Centre of the Earth’ employs brooding piano tones and a desaturated musical palette offset by some skittering percussion. Meanwhile, Bryan’s vocal delivery has a haunting fragility with its ponderous musings (“We should have seen it coming/We should have read the signs”).
Bryan’s work is certainly a polar shift from your common-or-garden electronic act, but its darker, more soulful elements carry an emotional punch that makes an impact.