Radiation City - Synesthetica

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2016-02-15

Radiation City have been through some tough times. The band's leads, Elisabeth Ellison and Cameron Spies, broke up after their last album, which almost broke up the band too. Somehow, though, they managed to patch things up, start from scratch, and settle down to write some excellent music.

The album opens with 'Oil Show', which aptly places itself in the center of the styles to be found throughout the album: an oddly retro, sorta doo wop, sorta longue, sorta disco tune with some nice guitar and electronics piled on top. That's followed by the first single, 'Juicy', a perfectly crafted work, with a bouncing, joyous chorus filled with "la la las", the ultimate sign of a pop song. Ellison has a magical voice, filled with emotion and range.

Next up is 'Butter', which is a downtempo, hazy disco song, all shimmery and glowing and packed with minor chords. 'Milky White' is a sassy, languid rocker with an awesomely sexy chorus. "Futures" is another standout, with an irresistable, headnodic chorus that bounces back and forth and mixes up its flow in an intensely satisfying way, and verses that take you back to summertime drives down the strip in 1950s Americana. 'Sugar Bloom' seems to channel the Beatles by way of Apples in Stereo, with some great harmonizing over pulsing keys and percussion.

Unfortunately, the songs led by Spies, 'Come and Go' and 'Separate', lack a lot of the power of Ellison's tunes, although she swoops in to save the day even on those tracks. And the album does end on a bit of a flop, with the dull 'Fancy Cherries' closing things out. It's not bad, it's just not very interesting, and mars a pretty solid set.

Still, there are plenty of good songs, and a few that are as good as it gets. Anyone looking for something a bit different from radio garbage and even the psych rock surge with an ear for retro sounds will love this. I feel confident it will be one of my top picks of 2016.

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