The debut full-length album from New York's Cardiknox, 2016's Portrait, is a buoyant, deftly produced set of infectious and often uplifting dance-oriented tracks. Featuring the talents of vocalist Lonnie Angle and multi-instrumentalist Thomas Dutton, Cardiknox create a robust, '80s synth pop-influenced sound primarily centered around Angle's yearning, resonant voice. Expertly produced by veteran Grammy-winning producer John Shanks (Stevie Nicks, Bon Jovi, Miley Cyrus), Portrait is an almost perfect balance between radio-ready, populist dance music and earnest, thoughtful alternative singer/songwriter electronica. It's an attractive combination that owes a heavy debt to artists like Imogen Heap and Frankmusik, artists who care as much about creating deeply emotional soundscapes as getting your feet onto the dancefloor. In that sense, Cardiknox also have a lot in common with artists like Kiesza, Dragonette, Holychild, Karmin, and other similarly inclined acts that combine infectious, EDM-style beats with kinetic electric guitars and shimmery synthesizers. To these ends, cuts like the opening "Earthquake" and the yearning "Souvenirs" grab your attention with oversized beats, swaths of Day-Glo keyboards, and Angle's multi-tracked vocals. Similarly, latter-album tracks like the slow-burn "What Do I Do Now" and vibrant "Perfect Storm" have a romantic, '80s sophisti-pop vibe that pleasingly brings to mind a mix of Tears for Fears and Peter Gabriel. Elsewhere, the shimmering midtempo "Doors" and "On My Way," with its chorus of "I'm not gonna stop, and nothing's gonna get in my way," have a swaggering, open-hearted quality. Ultimately, the positive-minded sensibility that Angle and Dutton bring to all of Portrait speaks to their knack for delivering meaningful anthems of empowerment wrapped in a shiny, wide-eyed pop package.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar