Complete Me

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Echoing the same career path as Little Boots, former London School of Fashion student Vincent Frank, aka Frankmusik, built up a loyal online fan base long before he started appearing on the same ones-to-watch lists, thanks to various YouTube postings that showcased his inventive brand of '80s-influenced synth pop. Like his female counterpart, his D.I.Y. sound has been given a glossy sheen for his debut album, Complete Me, which in this case is provided by Stuart Price, the man behind the Killers' electro-based Day & Age and the recent disco-pop output of Madonna and Kylie. It's a move that undoubtedly smooths out the slightly rough edges of his demos, but at the same time also removes much of its experimental nature, with the video game-esque instrumentation of the original "Confusion Girl" and "3 Little Words" toned down in favor of a more polished radio-friendly sound. However, any accusations of selling out would be totally unfounded, as this highly ambitious concept album, based on a breakup with his former girlfriend, is still an exuberant and imaginative collection of songs. Self-described as "Blade Runner-pop," its 13 tracks, full of kaleidoscopic synths and futuristic beats, would indeed provide a perfect alternative soundtrack to the Ridley Scott cult classic. "In Step," with its space-age effects and robotic vocals, is an authentic slice of futuristic electro-pop, "Time Will Tell" effortlessly merges acid house vocal loops with lurching basslines and tribal rhythms, and final track "Run Away from Trouble" is an atmospheric and cinematic new age-inspired tale of heartbreak that would befit the end credits of any sci-fi movie. Elsewhere, the melancholic lyrics of "Better Off as 2" are set to a backdrop of shimmering synths and anthemic Italo-house riffs, "When You're Around" is a pulsating Hi-NRG number that cleverly chops up the harpsichord line from the Stranglers' "Golden Brown," and the title track is a gloriously overblown new wave ballad reminiscent of Ultravox's "Vienna." Frankmusik himself is in possession of a quirky and charismatic voice, but it can often descend into irritating Mika-esque falsetto territory, particularly on the stuttering electro of "Gotta Boyfriend?" However, unlike many of his contemporaries' debuts, Complete Me is comfortably able to translate genuine emotion amidst its dancefloor-friendly production, which suggests that he's more than capable of prolonging his career once the whole nu-synth scene has lost momentum. Over-processed and chaotic it may be, but never bereft of invention, Complete Me is always an intriguing listen that confirms the arrival of one of the U.K. dance scene's most exciting talents.

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