19 June 2015

Emerald Park - GO!GO!GO!

That cover looks like the colour blind tests that I took in school (and failed, hence I never became an engineer as I wanted to as a kid - no-one would want me to wire stuff obviously).  It is also a bit hypnotic, isn't it?  Well, I feel that it is - this is the latest by Emerald Park; Hailing from Malmo, Sweden the band have been making waves with their last release which was called 'For Tomorrow'.  Now, I will be honest as I always am and admit that until the last few days I had no idea who these cats were; but I received an email about them and when I looked into them I have found that they have been previously produced by Ola Frick who is of course from the wonderful Moonbabies.  His name attached to this immediately help with the interest level on my part, also if we receive any requests we do like to review the acts (for better or worse) as they made the effort to contact us - I still live in dread of some acts contacting me (not this band I would like to add), but this is not the time or place to discuss that).  Having given their back catalogue as listen, I have found that the band fall into the fields of electronica, indie and pop; they are also changeable in the same release, but without moving too far from their own sound.  So let’s find out how GO!GO!GO! sounds.......

Starting this mini album is the title track "GO!GO!GO!" which reminds me a little bit of HelloGoodbye and their song "Here (In Your Arms)" but with the added bonus of a better set of vocalists, musical ability and emotion.  It has a strange mixture swimming underneath the surface in places; I can hear Depeche Mode, I can hear Erasure, I can hear Clannad and I can also hear in this mix a slight bit of post punk noise that gives the song a subtle feeling.  The condemnation of commercialism expressed on this song is subversive with asking people to bring their modern comforts and a fire is going to be started; the fact I am reviewing this on a laptop is not lost on me either and song takes on a new feeling.  A really interesting opening to this album which is followed by "Liberteens" that starts off with sound that reminds me of The Cardigans before it is swiftly swapped with a song that would take pride of place in any Imogen Heap album.  It is a beautifully painted picture about memories, love and looking over ones' shoulder towards the past.  It holds a dream like quality about it, moving slowly to makes its point and not being in a hurry to get there.  I like this number despite the chorus not quite reaching the spot the way the verses do, but this is a personal taste and does not detract from the song and minimal elegance.  "Hamburg" is a different beast though, it is darker and the hunt for a place to go and for the music to flow.  It seems familiar from the outset and I cannot put my finger on why, but the sound reminds me once again of Depeche Mode & Erasure however it is mixed in with the sound of Muse and the song "Stardust" (or the atmosphere that is created by that particular song for me - there is still something else in there as well which is evading me).  It is the jewel of this album, with the night being the back drop it also makes the listener focus on the nights out that they would have experienced when things fall into place and good times are experienced.  The bass sound rumbled in my head for ages afterwards, still trying to finger out what else is going on here as it; however it is very hypnotic and delivered beautifully.

"Guiding Light" starts with the background noise of a city or town (not near a main street, but it is an urban noise) and then the band ask people to sit down and take their medicine.  The song seems to be about keeping someone sedated due to either a medical condition or helping someone through the door which we must all flow through at one point.  It is also have the feeling of love, regret, despair and it feels like a vigil; they are awaiting the inevitable ending and it is hard not feel uneasy during the number.  When music can make that happen, it is a sign that the band have done their job well as it does stay with you.  Musically it follows a similar pattern to the rest of the record, but that is some dark waters on that number - well played Emerald Park, well played.  After that emotional roller-coaster comes the first single to be released off the album called "Wolf" which talks about something which you cannot sense, but you know that there is something out there and it is watching you and waiting.  Out of all the songs on the album, it is the one which does not quite reach the level of the rest of the album, maybe the emotional heartbreak of "Guiding Light" drained me to breaking, but I cannot be scared of the wolf and its approach.  It is well played, full of great production, the band sound as good as they have in this album; the track just does not connect with me which is a shame.  The penultimate track is called "Blue" and starts with a piano scale and a lament about getting ones' shit together and head to sleep, a sense of unease and restlessness is the prevailing theme.  It sounds like a lullaby and that tiredness is really strong.  It is another minimal song, but that does not apply to the drama for me; the lyrics are beautiful (with lots a swearing so sadly not a radio hit), the sombre nature of the tune also gives it a lasting effect on the listener.  Well played once more Emerald Park, well played.  Ending the album with a dose of energy is "Graduation Failed" which would have been my choice of first single for this album, it has a jumpy vibe and is very catchy; it is holds the audience and contrasts for the listener as the lyrics are at odds with the happy nature of the music.  I like this kind of subversive pop song and it gives this album a brilliant closing track.

This is an album that is out of time for me, not in a bad way but with the music being (overall) very happy and a bit cheerful; yet the lyrical content is dark and not to be taken lightly.  The time when this type of album was most revered was the 1980's and early 1990's, so for that reason it feels like it is against the tide of modern music - and it is because of that sort of thing that I really found myself falling for its charms.  It is very hard not to like a band that gives the listener a lesson on how to feel uncomfortable in places, whilst making music that can still make the sunshine.  It is a clever album that makes you think, it is one that could also be played when you just want to concentrate on the music and leave the lyrics to the side and you will have just as rewarding an experience.  I like pop albums like this, they make the world more interesting.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Hamburg

You can purchase the digital album of the album from Amazon here (it is out on 23rd June 2015)

You can follow the activities of Emerald Park on Facebook here

You can hear some of their music (as well as this release) on Soundcloud here

You can also hear lots of their music on Bandcamp here

If this release comes out of Spotify, Deezer and other platforms, I will update the links here; but if you can get the release (especially from their direct sources) it will help the band directly.

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