Album Picks: Freezepop
Fri, 07 Sep 2007 12:49:54
Though sloppy guitars and having a knack for drug-related arrests are de rigueur in the tastemaking music scene right now, Massachusetts-based trio Freezepop are sticking to their guns—which happen to be fully loaded with sleek, unapologetic electro-pop.
Their latest release, Future Future Future Perfect, shows the team taking their electronica seriously, playing it cool and aloof in true Euro-techno fashion, while adding their own cheeky pop flourishes. So, we caught up with Freezepop to ask them which of their favorite albums influenced their sound and which ones they simply couldn't live without.
The Duke's Picks
Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses
Hitting just before mainstream success and the unfortunate departure of Alan Wilder, this album just struck a chord. It’s dark and brooding, but the pop songs encapsulated within elevated the impact overall. Some of the most epic moments in synthpop are present in those songs.
Weezer – Weezer (Blue Album)
I’m fascinated by the art of writing pop music—which I believe I share with Rivers Cuomo. Simple but incredibly satisfying chords and vocal harmonies and unforgettable melodic hooks permeate this album. Every song is pop perfection.
Radiohead – The Bends
Everyone dotes on OK Computer, which is valid, but I seem drawn to The Bends over and over again. It was the beginning of the experimentation with guitar and synth, and it keeps me coming back for more listens.
Daft Punk – Discovery
It’s innovative and intelligent in a way that most dance albums only wish to be. They do a fair amount of “lifting” on this album, but at least they’re clever about it and create a whole new track in the process. You won’t find me listening to very many dance/club albums outside of their normal habitat. Kudos to the robots.
Depeche Mode - Violator
The most important electronic record ever by the most important electronic band ever.
I don't like words like 'important.' They are very Q magazine and Rolling Stone to me. Those overstatements are almost always a turn-off.
Having said that, I welcome an argument that will tell me why my first statement is false. I like Kraftwerk too. I like the original Human League. I know what you're thinking. Violator is still the best. They backed off the samplers a little and went back to synthesizers. Mmm, mmm good. Sorry. I know The Duke loves Music For The Masses, but it still has to be Violator for me. Violator . I would recommend that you go get it, but if you are reading this you probably already have it.
Arcadia - So Red The Rose
This is the side project formed by Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes (and ostensibly drummer Roger Taylor). Rhodes was always the artier and the less strict musical counterpoint (i.e."idea guy"). They balanced each other out very well in the confines of Duran, which was at its best when the dance/art school/funk-rock hybrid was achieved.
So Red The Rose picks up where all the weirder Duran stuff left off. Arcadia is as 'art school' as was possible in the framework of a nine-song record that still sounded a whole lot like radio-friendly pop music. They were allowed to be free and do whatever they wanted with a huge budget.
Arcadia is a sonic and atmospheric delight. Described by Le Bon as "The most pretentious album ever made," it is really an accomplishment in early/mid '80's art rock. Early Duran were always largely about escape, and So Red The Rose is their crowning acheivement in this regard. Although it sounds somewhat dated now and is insanely overdue for a remaster, I feel like people can still get something out of this record, a real audio and lyric adventure.
A-ha - Scoundrel Days
This record was a clear attempt to make their sound a bit meatier and slightly less synth/sample driven than their first record. In retrospect it still sounds like a synth record, but with more real drums, bass guitar and lead guitar parts than their debut.
The production shimmers (even though this record is also painfully in need of a remaster) and a darker lyrical tone is set throughout. Although there is a bit of filler, Scoundrel Days is epic and fairly flawless in parts. Perhaps this was a reaction to their super-poppy international hit "Take On Me." I don't know. What I do know is that Morten Harket is the most underrated singer in western civilization, and all of A-ha can pen a fine tune. This band and this record were huge for me and still are. However: Dated-o-meter? Medium-high. Concerned about that? Don't be. Buy it today.
Suede - Coming Up
This is the third record from Suede, sometimes known as The London Suede here in the states. Coming Up is not as rocking as their first record, nor as epic and aching as their second. It is, however a perfect, perfect, perfect blend of the two. Original guitarist/crybaby-egotist Bernard Butler jettisoned Suede after their second record and was replaced with two musicians for this, their third. They needed to add two people.
His departure, however, proved to be a good thing for the band (at least temporarily), as they tightened up and lost a little bit of the bombast and histrionics that made some of their early music seem, well, a little immature. Coming Up is filled with attitude, sadness and some of singer Brett Anderson's most memorable lyrics. A much more self aware band emerged, able to be both maudlin and humorous, sometimes in the same breath, all the while pulsing to glammy guitars and the high level of conceptual production Suede was known for. It epitomizes the height of Britpop (if you like that sort of thing), and is a classic record I personally could not live without.
Duran Duran – Duran Duran
When I was 11, my best friend and I were talking about music. It was not something we did all that often, but she had a very exciting band to tell me about. Their songs were awesome and plus they were “really gorgeous!” At that point I think I had heard “Is There Something I Should Know?” on the radio, and liked it a lot. I wanted to hear more. She brought in her record the next day so I could borrow it. From that point on, I was a pretty hardcore Duranie (of the Simon Girl variety)—I even had a Duran Duran painter’s cap. I still LOVE this album. It is so good and weird!
Duran Duran – Rio
Okay, so I chose another Duran Duran album. So, yeah, as a whole I prefer the first album, but Rio has “Last Chance on the Stairway,” which is clearly the greatest song ever.
Honorable mention: Human League – Dare!