Electric Youth - Memory Emotion - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Electric Youth - Memory Emotion

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2019-08-09
Electric Youth - Memory Emotion
Electric Youth - Memory Emotion

What's nice about Memory Emotion, the third album from Toronto synth-pop duo Electric Youth, comprised of couple Austin Garrick and Bronwyn Griffin, is how unpretentious it is. There's not really any posturing or irony here. What you see is what you get, and what you get is sweet, sincere music about love and life. The entire set is like a soothing balm. Have you been hurt? Apply this album liberally and feel the pain melt away.

Opener 'The Life' is nice, but it feels like its building towards something that never arrives. There's a sense of incompleteness that detracts from the music. But the second track, 'ARAWA', delivers the goods, settling into the comforting space that most of the album occupies: a relaxing, melancholic, but still upbeat mindset.

'On My Own' is a highlight, bobbing on a raft of beats and synths crafted by Garrick down a mellow stream, with Griffin's sweet voice steering the ship. 'thirteen' takes it even slower, plodding (in the best way!) on bass synths without being too weighty, just taking its time and enjoying the sights and sounds. It's a great example of Garrick understanding how to perfectly frame Griffin's angelic voice without leaving it unsupported.

What's interesting here is that although not every song works as well, it's not that all the fast songs outperform the slow ones or vice versa. Each is its own beast, with no way of knowing which ones will come out on top in advance. 'Breathless' is one of the slower songs, and it feels lackadaisical and a touch aimless. Then there's 'Higher' on the flip side, which moves with energy but doesn't quite allow the vocals and instrumentation to gel.

There is, of course, a huge helping of 80s vibes packed into the set. 'Now Now' could have been in the soundtrack to any number of John Hughes films. On the other hand, there are tracks that feel very fresh, like 'Real Ones', which has a decidedly modern production quality, more spacious and genre-defying. And 'Through the same eyes' manages to some both retro and contemporary. It's another high point, extremely wistful and pensive, with lyrics that kinda break my heart a little: "If nothing human loves forever, we'll come back as something else next time. Cuz you could tell the moon was there for the sun right from the start. Together they make the day and night."

The title track closes out the set, but it's just a one-and-a-half-minute outro. Still, it's as lovely as anything that's come before, and a nice finisher, very minimalistic and driven by Griffin's dulcet singing.

Though the album has highs and lows and is definitely not perfect, I can't complain about it too much, since it's so charming and, again, just sincere. In a world that seems increasingly filled with media done with a wink and a nod, even a sneer, it's a wonderful change of pace to hear music this unguarded and naked. Even if the music wasn't solid, which it is, that alone would be enough to make it worth a listen. As it stands, Memory Emotion is one of the best synth-pop albums of the year.

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