This record came with a nice dose of excitement, having been recorded as a crossover between a couple of my Aussie faves — Jake Robertson (School Damage, Ausmuteants) and Violetta Del Conte-Race (Primo!). The duo skitters down the post-punk crossings that zig-zag between the common corridors of the artists’ respective bands. Synth-heavy, with an ear for space and pacing, the works on Modal Melodies’ debut paint pop into dark corners. The songs hang heavy with a velvety dread, but also a quiver of anticipation. The slow-motion synths spar with some longing guitar lines. The thread the band pulls at unravels a history of outsider synth pop, unspooling auras from recently reissued gems like Saâda Bonaire and more buried strains like Lena Platanos or Monopol.
Jake and Violetta create an album that’s works more in atmosphere than hooks, though there are still plenty of moments that lodge themselves into the brain. Smoke curled croons and the cold edge of computer love are constantly splashed with the bright paint streaks of Jake’s guitar. Songs like “The Sun” exemplify this, with Del Conte-Race’s vocals hanging on the steamed air while lifted from the lonesome beat, the guitars would make for a pretty insistent glam-slashed punk riff. Those contradictions and juxtapositions seem to be what drives the album and what makes it a delightful addition to the new wave of post-punk.
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