As both a respected remixer and an ex-member of a post-punk outfit, Dayve Hawk earned his stripes before setting up his own musical identity. 2010’s ‘Seek Magic’ impressed with its abilities to steal from the past but mould it in to something that stood on its own two feet. ‘Player Piano’ is a quick follow-up. Perhaps too quick, infact.
The album begins promisingly enough with the quaint sounds of an intro called ‘Musicbox’. Then we experience ‘Wait In The Dark’; a song full of primary-coloured vintage electronic. It’s only failing is the rather thin vocals, which is surprising given Hawk’s experience as a frontman. Sadly this failing becomes ever more apparent as the album draws on and the songs become less hooky. ‘Offers’ hints at the pastorally-flavoured pop of China Crisis whilst ‘Fell Thru Ice’ features some lovely chiming guitar but these are rare highlights. Nothing on the record is disastrous but nothing really stirs the body or the mind either. Even a last ditch attempt at excitement, courtesy of the beat-heavy ‘Trance Sisters’, sounds rather laboured.
After the great promise of ‘Seek Magic’, ‘Player Piano’ shows a disappointing lack of progress. For anyone to make a success of electronic pop nowadays, there either has to be top notch tunes or a USP (Destroyer’s ‘Kaputt’ being a great recent example). Unfortunately, Memory Tapes is found wanting on both fronts.