REVIEWS
SynthPoP For The Masses
TOC 2005 (1/3, 2/3, 3/3)

Mesh ? We Collide (limited edition)

What does a band make during the period which passed since the last single release in 2003? Well, maybe they took a break, did a side project or simply produced a new album? The latter happened as Mesh are back with 'We Collide' which sounds a little bit different but still typically Mesh.

Already the first single 'Crash' forebode in which direction the British trio from Bristol was going to aim for with 'We Collide'. For 'We Collide' Mesh made use of authentic drums and electric guitars, however the electronic sounds still dominate. With their last albums, Mesh have shown that beautiful melodies and catchy refrains are a matter of course. But on 'We Collide' Mesh have capped it all off and released an absolutely ingenious album.
One poppy track is hunting the other and every track convinces with a catchy refrain. Many fans will say that Mesh are aimed too much at mainstream. Well, I say that Mesh only wanted to make really good music that amuses every listener. Even if the songs are very catchy, Mesh did not abdicate creativity and still retain their ambitions of being alternative enough.

'We Collide' also convinces with a good mixture of mid- to fast-speed tracks and some wonderful ballads; Mesh reigns supreme in all categories. This album includes eleven excellent tracks which result in an absolutely harmonious album. My favourite is 'This Is What You Wanted' as rocking guitar riffs and heavy drums hunt the melodies and cast the refrain like a pearl. For this reason this album counts as one of the absolute highlights of this year and is a must for everyone who is interested in peppy Pop with alternative roots.

Mesh has released a limited edition for the German audience which comes with an additional DVD which includes the Making Of 'We Collide', three videos and five demo versions of album tracks. The comparison of the demos with the album tracks shows that Gareth Jones who also produced Depeche Mode, Erasure, etc brought out the best in the demos.


Date of Release: 31rd March 2006
Rating: 4 megafons
   

Pet Shop Boys ? Fundamental (limited edition)

The British duo is musically back in business for the first time since 1994. About 4 years have passed since the last 'real' album 'Release' in 2002, where the Pet Shop Boys were pleasantly rocking and successfully tried to expand their musical horizons with good BritPoP. Now with 'Fundamental' they have gone back to their electronic roots. On 'Fundamental' analogue synthesizers are dominating the compositions and no attempt at BritPoP is recognizable. Well, die-hard fans will welcome this release as 'Fundamental' invites you on a little journey back to the late 80s and heavily reminds one of the album 'Behaviour' released in 1990.

The Pet Shop Boys are sounding familiar - melodic, catchy (e.g. 'The Sodom And Gomorrah Show', 'Minimal', 'I'm With Stupid', 'Integral'), with all their ballads very sensitive (e.g. 'Numb', 'Luna Park', 'Casanova In Hell') and the lyrics are still cynical. Therefore the British duo give proof of their constancy and are challenging the competitors who consist of Hip-Hop, Black Music and Techno. I think that this album will not tie up with the successes of the 80s but is a wonderful gift to all the loyal fans, who the Pet Shop Boys obtained 20 years ago.

Also well-done is the limited edition which is available in Germany and includes an additional disc named 'Fundamentalism'. This disc includes some real delicacies. The remixes are great and transform some album tracks to propellant club songs (e.g. ' Fugitive', 'I'm With Stupid'). It also includes a cover version of the Dusty Springfield song 'In Private' which is performed with the help of Sir Elton John.

On the whole this album is a must for every Pet Shop Boys fan. The sales figures and radio airplay will show us how much the 'new Generation' is inspired by this album. I'm inspired in any case!


Date of Release: 19th May 2006
Rating: 4 megafons
   
 
ReActivate ? Reactivate Your Mind

Because of the good placing in the Sonic Seducer Battle Of Bands 2004 competition I got interested in this album, and due to this my expectations for the debut album from the German duo were high. ReActivate have a good hand in producing melodic songs with heavy beats which include a high proportion of techno and trance elements.
In the long run the album becomes too boring and uninspired. The major weakness is the singing because of a too monotonous pitch of the voice. Furthermore, ReActivate try to compensate this weakness with the use of vocoders. Therefore this album sounds very sterile, technical and not very authentic. Well, that makes it sounds like it is a flop; but it isn't that bad. Several songs have absolutely the ability to raze the dancefloor.

The limited edition includes some remixes of the album tracks on a further disc. The 'Midnight Resistance Mix' of 'Waiting For The Night' and the 'e:o:d' Remix of 'Dream In Silence' are the songs which convince most.

On the whole ReActivate present a peppy and dark trance/techno album that was mainly produced for the slightly gloomy dancefloor and which represents adequate to slight fare.


Date of Release: 9th December 2005
Rating: 1.5 megafons
   
 
Tycho Brahe ? Atlantic

This is the third full-length album of the Australian band Tycho Brahe which ties in with the previous album Tasty. Tycho Brahe still keep alive the 80s pop and wave music which results from the use of vintage equipment such as a Minimoog, Roland TB-303 and the LinnDrum drum machine. Also the compositions are 80s like and able to transport this bygone era to the 21st century. Ken Evans also makes use of an electric guitar which always plays an important role during the mid parts (e.g. It's Not Enough, Seventeen) of the songs or initiates the songs (e.g. Don't Feel That Way). Guitars are present for the most part and strengthen the 80s trait. During the refrains Ken Evans is supported by the very gentle female voice of Georgina Emery who is also responsible for the main vocals on 'Military Option'.

Each album track convinces with a catchy hook and very melodic refrain. Except for some ballads (e.g. 'Free', 'Empty Days') and the instrumental track 'Laconia' all tracks are based on mid to fast beats which are a guarantee of being club-capable. It's really hard to find any bad track as all the songs have been composed and performed with a lot of care and with the demand of transporting the 80s feel without adulteration. When listening to the songs you are always discovering elements which were characteristic for pop and wave music 25 years ago.
Even if the music by Tycho Brahe consists of familiar ingredients they are able to create their own memorable style.
My favourite album track is 'Marianne' which mediates a lot of melancholy and convinces with propellant beats, a very catchy refrain and excellent mixing.

On the whole 'Atlantic' features pristine 80s wave music which is able to seduce you back to the early 80s music, when New Wave music was formed. In comparison with the other Australian band Neuropa who also rely upon analogue synthesizers, Tycho Brahe are representing New Wave instead of vintage SynthPoP music.


Date of Release: 21st March 2006
Rating: 4 megafons