- by Sean Hewson Rating:7 Release Date:2016-09-09 Label: Polyvinyl
Strange Diary, Psychic Twin's debut, took four years to make. During this time singer and songwriter Erin Fein went through a divorce and the band went through several line-up changes. The album is, as its title suggests, intended as a diary.
In spite of the upheaval and emotional trauma involved in its creation, Strange Diary is a pleasant, consistent album that flirts with the Synthwave genre but just about keeps its distance. These nine songs wouldn't be out of place on the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie or as filler on an Alphaville album. But Psychic Twin have wisely foregone the neon artwork of other Synthwave albums and have also added some modern EDM touches to prevent Strange Diary from being totally retro.
The sound itself is full but well-organised across the whole album. On the whole the song-writing is a little light - to continue the Alphavile comparison, there is nothing as strong as Big In Japan or Forever Young - although Hopeless (I Won't Take Part Of You) and Lose Myself are good songs. Fein's voice is also quite light and breathless but this works with the slightly cold sound of the album and she lets herself go a little on Lose Myself (another of the stronger songs on here).
Fans of recent Retro-Futurist soundtracks (Stranger Things, Turbo Kid, The Host) should enjoy this album. There is the sense of a story here and the language used is in keeping with the 80s feel (titles like Running In The Night and lyrics like 'Even if you slip away in the night, I'll chase you down, baby' from Chase You). Whilst this mood is occasionally broken by more modern touches like on Heart Divided or Stop In Time, on the whole Strange Diary is a consistent, focussed album that throws just enough spanners in the works to prevent it from being totally lost in the Synthwave genre.
To be listened to on a Walkman whilst looking at a neon sign in the rain.