Tapping into the combined efforts of veteran Ghost Box artist Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle) alongside Ed MacFarlane and Ed Gibson (both of Friendly Fires), The Pattern Forms is probably the most straightforward pop release that’s graced the halls of the label. Gibson and MacFarlane bring their background in synth-pop along for the ride and it certainly shuttles to the foreground in tracks like “Black Rain” and “Don’t Let Me Dream”, but the more interesting aspects of the project arise when Brooks takes a harder tack on the wheel musically, peppering in some of his abstract touches. The two parties apparently bonded over library releases from the ’70s and ’80s and when they begin to wander into the ’80s, in particular, they find a ground that emulates some of the dreamier film soundtracks of the time.
There’s a clear ripple of melancholy that runs through the whole album that emulates ’80s stalwarts like Tears for Fears or The Comsat Angels (see “I’m Falling”) but once the record tumbles into the more expansive second side, things begin to take a turn from merely leaning on synth-pop to molding it into something more ambitious. “Man and Machine” has the same bounce and pulse as much of the first half of the record, but the sound palette gives it a deeper mood and a stab at that odd otherness that perhaps the collaborators were looking for in their approach. Similarly the rest of the second side hits harder, “Fluchtwege” adds in some guitar and synths burbling with a sadness that recalls Air at their most melodramatic. It’s the kind of track that encapsulates sadness in a way that soft focus indie films revel in. In short, Peel Away the Iv feels like a great seed that will hopefully spring to further germination. The collaboration is certainly working, but they’re stronger when they find each other in their obsessions, rather than letting the needle sway too far toward a pop comfort zone.
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