Solid Gold


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Some EPs are scattered collections of odds and ends that are designed mainly for collectors and an artist's more obsessive fans; others feel like cohesive mini-albums and stand on their merits even if one isn't a seasoned listener who absolutely has to have anything and everything that the artist records. Synchronize feels more like the latter than the former. This five-track, 21-minute EP isn't quite as essential as Solid Gold's full-length album, Bodies of Water, but it is still a respectable demonstration of what these Midwesterners do -- and that is alternative pop/rock that is slick, polished, stylish, and not unaware of the more moody synth pop of the '80s (such as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark). But Synchronize sounds like a 21st century recording, not an attempt to emulate the synth pop of 20 or 25 years earlier. Even so, this EP gives the impression that Solid Gold are well aware of electronica's history -- they draw inspiration from both the past and the present -- and for all their slickness and studio gloss, tunes like "One in a Million" and the title track (which is heard with two different mixes) show that Solid Gold are serious about songcraft as opposed to simply beats and production. And when it comes to Solid Gold's synth pop influences, Synchronize clearly favors the more moody side of synth pop. No one would mistake this EP for something by Freezepop, a delightfully ironic Boston-based synth pop/new wave group that parodies '80s pop culture at its goofiest; Synchronize, in contrast, is full of melancholia and darker emotions. Even an intriguing remake of Kenny Loggins' 1986 hit "Danger Zone" (which was part of the Top Gun soundtrack along with Berlin's "Take My Breath Away") has a resolutely melancholy perspective. And the instrumental "Sharpshooter" is downright gloomy; we're talking Depeche Mode gloomy. But Solid Gold's melancholia obviously inspires them creatively, and it makes for a likable 21 minutes worth of listening on Synchronize.

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