The Electroluvs

Bubblewrapped

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What goes around comes around, and if you wait long enough, it will come back at you again. Back in the mid-'90s there was a mini-synth-pop revival, although it never really grew beyond the grassroots. But now that the new wave is back big time, it's sprouting up again, and in full flower in the case of the Electroluvs, a partially synthesized pair of Scots who are head over heels in love with the genre. "We're punks with synthesizers," Depeche Mode famously declared early in their career, only to be dismissed as floppy haired nutters. Electroluvs, however, effortlessly connect the dots for doubters on "Blonde" and "On Thin Ice," and there again, they've got an edge with guitar and bass in their musical repertoire. Of course, edgier electro groups like Fad Gadget and the Flying Lizards were already proving the point by taking synths to the pop extremes, and their influences ribbon across Bubblewrapped too. And who could forget Soft Cell, the guttersnipes of the synth scene? Certainly not the Electroluvs, who feed that duo's styling into their own as well. Still, it was left to Depeche to introduce the masses to industrial in the mid-'80s, and the Electroluvs' "Guilty Party" pays tribute to that groundbreaking musical move. And who knows, maybe the synth stars' later flirtation with a country-fied style is reflected in Bubblewrapped's title track and "Ever + Ever." By the '90s, electronica had moved far beyond its progenitors, and in places the album brushes up against early techno as well as the more atmospheric sounds of the Bristol Scene and groups like the Sneaker Pimps. However, as eclectic as the Electroluvs' influences are in the end, what inspired them most were all these fab faves' infectious melodies, and without borrowing a single one, Bubblewrapped is chock-a-block with contagious numbers and hooks big enough to anchor the Queen Mary. The rhythms are irrepressible, the guitar and bass give the songs an even bigger kick, with the vocals (divided between the pair) further enhancing the songs. Synth-pop for a whole new generation, and a stunning follow-up to their self-released debut.

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