Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Marnie on Soft Power Records

Synth pop can be constructed with such perfection that it holds it up to scientific scrutiny, it's so undeniably impressive it can override your personal taste. I'm drawn to the damaged, cheap sounding stuff that's inherently winking at the technology while still creating solid, catchy beats but there are bands like The Craft Spells or this single from Marnie on Soft Power Records where all reasoning and dissection goes out the window. Marnie comes from serious electronic roots as the solo project of Helen Marnie from Ladytron, who in the early 00's were one of the only respectable groups revising this retro sound without the irony.

A-Side's "The Hunter" opens with Helen's vocal behind crushed synth and swirling bit reduced beats that phaser in ever louder panning across channels. It's impenetrable with effects coming together for the first verse in surprising ways like "Real Hero" from Electric Youth, a surprise because this genre could still be this effective if smartly done. This is massive pop that's unbelievably shiny and huge, Helen's vocals are doubled and dense as the layers of instrumentation. Just plain impressive, the behind the scene's work in expression to find that line where this doesn't turn into too sweet or bland, there's a darkness at work with the guilty pleasure of Future Bible Heroes, which I'm ashamed that I have to turn down in public, but that's my problem. It draws from the dawn of synthesized sound but doesn't directly point at anything vintage. Marnie has found a balance of classic and modern in electronics that is basically nonexistent these days in indie rock.
Helen's vocal is the highlight of B-Side's "The Wind Breezes On", breathy and alien, mixed hard into the mic with beefy deep synth stabs on this bass line. I can't help but appreciate this as unselfconscious pop, the only questions are why I'm even fighting it. This is always going to sound like the future, an unrealized Max Headroom, neon future. It's oozing smartness and the highs aren't put together by accident.

Get this import only from Soft Power (who took their own name from a Ladytron track) Records who says:
MARNIE is the moniker adopted by Helen Marnie -lead singer of Ladytron for her stunning debut solo project 'Crystal World' from which the tracks 'The Hunter' and 'The Wind Breezes On' are taken. It was produced by fellow Ladytron member Daniel Hunt and co-produced by Bardi Johannsson. Recorded in Reyjavik, Iceland in August 2012, while Ladytron enjoy a temporary sabbatical- Crystal World (the LP from which both tracks are taken) is a glittering electronic pop record, evocative of the collision of two spheres, in the midst of a volcanic electronic landscape, the heart and soul of Marnie merge to create a glacial pop affair.

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