High Tech Low Life

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Psonica's debut album High Tech Low Life mixes the chugging guitars, impassioned vocals, and soaring choruses of '80s arena rock with occasional keyboard flourishes and other electronic elements. Sometimes this unusual hybrid works, as on the brooding, lovelorn pop of "Face of the Earth" and "Reality Free" and the Jesus Jones-esque "Get Higher." More often, though, the group sounds unfocused, particularly on songs like "Falling Apart," "Beautiful Lie," and "The Other Side," which confuse murkiness for moodiness. Though this problem plagues several of the album's songs, "Supply & Demand" is a notable exception; its bouncy bassline, jangly guitars, and frothy keyboards make it a fun, new wave-inspired highlight. Similarly, "Tomorrow Ain't What It Used 2B" has an enjoyable, slinky groove that most of the group's other material lacks. Though High Tech Low Life is frustratingly inconsistent, Psonica's strong grasp of pop song structures suggests that their next album may deliver a more fully realized version of their sound.

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