When I heard that I was going to be reviewing Nick Coyle’s new project, I was pretty pumped. I’ve enjoyed his work since a cover contest on MTV. I liked Lifer, and even dug the short-lived Stardog Champion. When I heard that it was something different, I couldn’t wait to hear what was in store for me. I don’t think I was properly prepared.
Coyle has reportedly said that his heart is no longer in rock, which definitely seems to be the case in his latest offering. With synth-heavy pop orchestrations, “Sound Makes Waves” is not so much a departure from the norm as an immigration, moving outside his previously defined box and totally restructuring the sound. I must admit, I don’t really know enough about synth pop (including how to properly classify this sound) to give any current, educated references.
In many ways it reminded me of a modern interpretation of 80’s pop like Michael Jackson and George Michael, with simple, accessible beats and hypnotic melodies. I’m really not sure what bridges the gap in style and chronology between those greats and “Sound Makes Waves,” but they’re definitely in the same family tree.
The album is mostly warm waves of electronica that set a desperate but hopeful mood that you can’t help but tap your foot to, and those warm waves finally crest and sweep you away in the powerful chorus of “One Step Closer.” Coyle’s varied voice really shines when multiplied into a full choir in scattered parts throughout “Sound Makes Waves,” and as a soloist, most especially on “Direction.”
“Mine” has a nice Depeche Mode feel, which lends itself well to the creepy vibe of this “stalker’s ode.” And I’ve got to mention the bass line in “Never Let Me Down,” which keeps the song jogging along at a cardio pace, and makes this a fun standout track. Finally, no pop album would be complete without that chorus hook that gets stuck in your head, and though there are several songs that fit the bill, the two that get the deepest in there are “One Step Closer” and “Anorexiqueen.”
In short, if you’re looking for a repeat of Lifer or even Strangers with Candy (truly old school, I know), then move on. You won’t find it here. If you’re into acoustic-rich electronica with pop melodies, or if you’re in the mood to try something different, this album may just be worth a listen. It’s set to be released via ChoirFire/Ingrooves on July 22nd.
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