Review: New Canyons – Strife, Struggle & Fire

There have been so many acts who appear to be leading the 80’s revival that it’s occured that the last year there wasn’t an 80’s revival was actually in 1989. No matter, New Canyons are a Chicago-based act who have clearly been influenced by the most melodramatic purveyors of synth pop but their take on it is strangely likeable.

Much of ‘Strife, Struggle & Fire’ consists of great swathes of synth pop that would make Ultravox blush. ‘Dressed To Kill’ is awash with epic keyboard melody but it’s hamstrung by the frontman’s over-emoting. Arranged in a not dissimilar fashion, ‘Last To Love’ is a messy affair which sounds like the band members are competing against each other.

On ‘We Could Drive’, however, New Canyons demonstrate for the first time that they are to be taken seriously. It’s another very portentous song but a doomy bass guitar, some sparkling atmospherics and a more restrained turn from their singer bodes well for the remainder for the record. So ‘Heart Transparency’ is a fine melancholic shoegazer track which benefits from a slower pace and ‘Slow Waltz’ is, ironically, rather quicker and its key hook displays a welcome sense of urgency that bodes well for the future. I also enjoyed the downbeat tale of ‘Caligula’.

‘Strife, Struggle & Fire’ is one of those records that can be so OTT in terms of sound and emotion that it seems ridiculous. Yet within this debut, there are some icy pop gems that remind me of a young and equally serious Tears For Fears or even The Chameleons if they’d discovered electro-pop.

Web Sites:
New Canyons Official Site
New Canyons MySpace

Further Listening:
Tears For Fears, The Chameleons

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