A spacey and vibrant record that looks to re-ignite the electro-rock fires of the 80s.
Words by Adam Davidson
The Death Of Pop are on a mission to bring 80s electro-rock gliding right back into fashion with their new album Seconds. The full-length effort from the brothers Angus and Oliver James is a disordered environment, kept in check by the treacle-thick production. Though chiefly optimistic in sound, the lyrical content on Seconds is bittersweet, discussing the shedding of decaying relationships. Though it is ambivalent, the album finishes with an overall sense of thankful existentialism. Seconds is a tribute to time spent with people who, for better or worse, are now in your past.
Go Back is this project’s lead single, a fair representation of the record and the style the band present. More than anything else it’s lush – with gallons of reverb and echoed vocals effects, there’s a lot of noise in the mix. This spirit of musical chaos is a recurring feature that may hold some of the songs back, as the melodies get washed out by the rising dissonance. In any case, it’s a spacey, vibrant tune, one that comes as quick as it goes. Alongside album opener Fade Away, this pair of tracks begin Seconds with a burst of energy, kicking things into gear before the album moves into more esoteric forms.
The tracklist is perfect, a small but key detail which makes Seconds such a rewarding listen. If you took in the quicker-paced, busier songs all at once, it would be overwhelming. But The Death Of Pop make sure there’s room to breathe before it gets too harsh. Allowing the commotion to dissipate with carefully placed calmer songs makes Seconds breeze by. It allows the music to be enjoyed as a series of peaks and dips. These changes in tone also showcase the band’s abilities, they’re so much more than a simple pop-rock band.
The title track is one of the best on the album. It finishes with a nicely-placed sax solo, pulsing in and out of prominence as the song comes to a close. Seconds, by it’s tumultuous finish, is virtually a prog-rock song, sitting neatly alongside the 80s influences that drive the album’s core genre rhetoric. When the basically structured tunes become bland, that’s when they hit you with a change in direction.
Due to it’s repeated lyrical themes, Seconds could be seen as a loose concept album. Once Good is direct in this regard, as Oliver sings about breaking free from a relationship – “I tried to lose you. Shake you off, let it drop.” He is trying to do this as tenderly as possible, as it wasn’t all bad – “Don’t try to hide it if you think that we should, you know that we were once good.” This troubled state of mind, when you want to move on but don’t want to hurt the other person, is hugely relatable. Plus, that funky guitar riff is a show-stopper!
On Seconds, unabashed musical nostalgia mixes with emotionally astute songwriting. Disappear ends the album with Oliver asking: “Can I flick a switch and make us disappear?” This is fittingly vague. As the hubbub fades away and the final chords ring out, you’re left to figure out whether this is a happy ending or not. That’s real life, though – nothing ever cuts off cleanly. It can get a little blurry at times, but the picture The Death Of Pop paints on Seconds is an intriguing one, swelling your speakers from the off with warm, synthesised familiarity.