Superhuman Happiness – ‘Escape Velocity’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

[rating=9.00]

Bandleader Stuart Bogie’s pseudo-rock pedigree is an impressive one. Having stints with the likes of David Byrne, TV On The Radio, and Arcade Fire under his belt, Escape Velocity plays like some kind of lush, organic techno that mixes strong pop sensibilities with its syncopated backbeat.

The opening track “VHS,” a title alone that sets the stage for the warm digital-by-way-of analogue soundscape, is the kind of tune that would play in the background as you rode a Tron lightcycle through the lush green forests of Pandora. Its mood-setting style is perfect at any volume, and brings with it the instantly ability to flood your conscious with an infectious groove, and the songs that end up pushing the conventions of a three-minute time limit allow for the arrangements to stretch themselves out to their natural limits without ever wearing out their welcome.

The addition of vocalist Andrea Diaz does wonders in creating a kind of lyrical back and forth with Bogie, a kind of 21st century update to immortal classics like Mickey and Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange.” Its true ambition, however, is the genre-bending to a point makes the music almost unclassifiable, yet remains a record that you want everyone to hear, as it inadvertently creates a soundtrack to a world you want to exist.

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There’s not a lot of bad things to say about Escape Velocity; the crisp, clean production lets the eclectic arrangements alternate between instruments as they move in and out from one another. A precise work of art, it has the feeling of a mirror broken into a thousand pieces, then put back together to see a more than a reflection staring back at you. A sort of lush, fractured reassembling of 70s techno-prog and 80s synth-pop, but without any visible seams.

Somewhere between the death of dancefloor disco and artful reimagining of New Wave lies the genesis of what would eventually become Escape Velocity. It’s smart, complicatedly simple, and melodically challenging while remaining effortlessly accessible. It ends up like an angst-less, free-spirited spiritual cousin to Arcade Fire’s Reflektor, one that leaves itself quietly with the lush vocal musings of final track “Cannonball”, and completes one of the most fulfilling and satisfying listens in recent memory.

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