Cinemascape - Cold Heaven
Synthpop, New Wave I've already reviewed Cinemascape's first album on this site, and I do remember it as a largely enjoyable if somewhat haphazard affair. But first albums are usually like that - the flaws are forgivable providing there is some talent and creativity at the core and that was certainly there. It was with some enthusiasm that I grasped the opportunity to review their follow up effort. Get some of that Swedish Synthpop Style with the benefit of experience to smooth the rough edges? Couldn't go wrong, could it?

But no, I once again seem to have drawn the short straw amongst the BR reviewing team and received a "difficult second album" to review. I knew something was wrong about half a minute into opening track "Second Coming". Downtempo beat, low-key synths, little guitar flourishes and a vocal performance that is competent enough on a technical level, but sounds for all the world like someone scribbled down a bunch of synthpop platitudes on the back of a used bus ticket and is now singing them dead straight. No hook, no catchy turn of phrase. Nothing.

"Private Property" is a slight improvement with it's melodic electronic and sputtering hi-hats providing some hint of the Vince school of synthetic pop success formula, but once again the song lacks any real charm. The next pair of songs, "Frantic" and "Silhouettes" make an attempt at bringing some rhythmic creativity to the album, but neither song has any real substance, with "Silhouettes" incorporating the naffest and most forced key change I've heard for years.

We finally get a beacon of hope with "Frozen Ground", a mid-tempo track that marches along confidently with a solid backbone that demands that this track at least be heard again. The bands obviously realise this and made it the lead single from the album. "Nuclear Heaven" also sound promising, multiple layers of synth providing an atmosphere of sorts, though their incorporation of melodic guitar into the mix isn't as neat as it could have been, resulting in a disappointing sloppy end result.

"Trespassing" stands out as my second favourite track from the album, and all it took was a solid rhythm, a rich, detailed mix and a chorus that punches through the speaker cones and actually stands out from the rest of the song - no clever tricks, just a good old-fashioned pop song with all the usual tricks in play. "High Hopes" is at least interesting, a tense, nervous style of drum programming injecting rhythmic uncertainly alongside pretty synth melodies, though the final product is only just the sum of its parts and by no means more.

"Deep Ravine" is strong instrumentally, a prominent lead melody and forceful drum loops driving the song forward, though once again the songs lyrical content and delivery just leaves a whole "Will this do?" feeling. The menacing "In The Company Of Strangers" throbs away with a chorus that really bursts out and demands attention. It's the last act of note on an album which now only offers the harsh, grating "Ran" and the very cliche usage of a heartbeat rhythm and piano+strings closer "Artifacts".

So yes, having heard their first album, I'm disappointed. There are some good concepts at work, but only occasionally do the actual songs grab hold of said concepts and take the recording to a new level. There's just a real lack of charisma coming across in these songs. And if you're a 'dress up and act theatrical' synthpop band, that's a real flaw.
2
Brutal Resonance

Cinemascape - Cold Heaven

I've already reviewed Cinemascape's first album on this site, and I do remember it as a largely enjoyable if somewhat haphazard affair. But first albums are usually like that - the flaws are forgivable providing there is some talent and creativity at the core and that was certainly there. It was with some enthusiasm that I grasped the opportunity to review their follow up effort. Get some of that Swedish Synthpop Style with the benefit of experience to smooth the rough edges? Couldn't go wrong, could it?

But no, I once again seem to have drawn the short straw amongst the BR reviewing team and received a "difficult second album" to review. I knew something was wrong about half a minute into opening track "Second Coming". Downtempo beat, low-key synths, little guitar flourishes and a vocal performance that is competent enough on a technical level, but sounds for all the world like someone scribbled down a bunch of synthpop platitudes on the back of a used bus ticket and is now singing them dead straight. No hook, no catchy turn of phrase. Nothing.

"Private Property" is a slight improvement with it's melodic electronic and sputtering hi-hats providing some hint of the Vince school of synthetic pop success formula, but once again the song lacks any real charm. The next pair of songs, "Frantic" and "Silhouettes" make an attempt at bringing some rhythmic creativity to the album, but neither song has any real substance, with "Silhouettes" incorporating the naffest and most forced key change I've heard for years.

We finally get a beacon of hope with "Frozen Ground", a mid-tempo track that marches along confidently with a solid backbone that demands that this track at least be heard again. The bands obviously realise this and made it the lead single from the album. "Nuclear Heaven" also sound promising, multiple layers of synth providing an atmosphere of sorts, though their incorporation of melodic guitar into the mix isn't as neat as it could have been, resulting in a disappointing sloppy end result.

"Trespassing" stands out as my second favourite track from the album, and all it took was a solid rhythm, a rich, detailed mix and a chorus that punches through the speaker cones and actually stands out from the rest of the song - no clever tricks, just a good old-fashioned pop song with all the usual tricks in play. "High Hopes" is at least interesting, a tense, nervous style of drum programming injecting rhythmic uncertainly alongside pretty synth melodies, though the final product is only just the sum of its parts and by no means more.

"Deep Ravine" is strong instrumentally, a prominent lead melody and forceful drum loops driving the song forward, though once again the songs lyrical content and delivery just leaves a whole "Will this do?" feeling. The menacing "In The Company Of Strangers" throbs away with a chorus that really bursts out and demands attention. It's the last act of note on an album which now only offers the harsh, grating "Ran" and the very cliche usage of a heartbeat rhythm and piano+strings closer "Artifacts".

So yes, having heard their first album, I'm disappointed. There are some good concepts at work, but only occasionally do the actual songs grab hold of said concepts and take the recording to a new level. There's just a real lack of charisma coming across in these songs. And if you're a 'dress up and act theatrical' synthpop band, that's a real flaw. Apr 11 2013

Jonny Hall

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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