- by Mark Steele Rating:8 Release Date:2016-01-27 Label: Memphis Industries
The man behind NZCA Lines - Michael Lovett - certainly has moved on from the previous album and to widen his creative circle, he has enrolled Charlotte Hatherley (Former Ash Guitarist, Bat for Lashes) alongside drummer Sarah Jones (Hot Chip, NYPC). It would appear the theme of Infinite Summer is of a Sci-Fi dystopian future shock meets an intimate love dialogue, inspired by Classic Sci-Fi writers including Arthur C. Clarke amongst others. This composition of 12 songs entitled Infinite Summer carries the notion of concept albums potentially making a belated comeback. Incidentally, amongst the current wave of artists rising from within the electronica genre, there remains an ever expanding canvas for many musical explorations to be etched out.
The opening theme of this 12-track ‘Approach’ with a French language narration over some daunting strings arrangement, expresses the art work of what may appear to be a swelling atomic sun with two people looking on from a distance contemplating their impending doom. Well in actuality, the artwork depicts as Lovett readily informs us is “based around the idea of a far-future Earth, where the sun has expanded to the size of a red giant and our extinction is imminent”.
There are many genuinely great tracks here to indulge in, ‘Persephone Dreams’ has Lovett’s falsetto soulful teasing alike to Singer/Producer Vikter Duplaix, although in a higher octave, upon an offbeat jazzy synth shuffle. Smooth and ‘Chemical Is Obvious’ runs through like a late summer night breeze, ’Two Hearts’ holds that fine 1980’s electro-funk down with what could be described as electro-klezmer (That trilled synth clarinet motif) and equally feels not unlike a rare early 90’s quirky house music track.
The title track ‘Infinite Summer’ is pure electro-Nu Classic soul carrying Lovett’s gentle vocals, it so asks for a ‘rewind and come again’, as they used to say back in the day. There is a varied similarity in groove on the smartly orchestrated and captivating love song ’New Atmosphere’. Yet the melodic style and instrumental phrasing recalls 80’s era R&B pop flavour of Scritti Politti led by vocalist Green Gartside - though an octave lower. ‘Sunlight’ could be Coldplay’s Chris Martin joining in for the fun of it. An excellent shifting harmony underneath a smooth vocal delivery.
The track that may be on a few repeats, ‘How Long Does It Take’ is addictive, actually it is a moth to a flame experience, which is thankfully due to the looping “How long does it take to fall in love” section. The upbeat ‘Jessica’ carries forward the style of music that was so prevalent in 1980’s, a very danceable constant moving beat courtesy of Jones’s enthusiastic driven delivery (her drumming is top notch on the other tracks too), and a solid bass with floating synths, which could be reminiscent of songs like Pat Benatar’s ‘Love Is A Battlefield’, a certain amount of Prefab Sprout’s melody and harmonies arranged. Likewise do check the chirpy ‘Do It Better’. Hatherley’s contributions of guitar and possibly backing vocals on the album, certainly add an extra shine to the songs.
Smooth jam ‘Dark Horizon’ possesses an addictive melancholic chord pattern with slow jam 70’s bass, glazed trumpets, wah-keys and features alluring vocals with continuously looped phrases “I feel that time is running out for us” followed by interspersed line “Then You know that we should let…go”. “The world you have made for us” then changes back and forth from some chip tune dancehall beats with spacious layers of synth bleeps, into pauses leading into dramatic arpeggios
Lovett could very well be a game changer with an accessible electro R&B formula going forward from this album, hopefully keeping Hatherley and Jones onboard. He has an undeniable knack for writing good tunes, which should become club classics. The only drawback on this romanticised end-of-the-world soundtrack, is that it seems to be over too quickly, in that case it must be time to hit the repeat button on this one.