July 23, 2018 ShadowParty – ShadowParty (Album Review)
You may not have heard of ShadowParty yet, but there is no doubt this band will be taking off at any moment. A nascent group composed of music industry veterans such as Josh Hager and Jeff Friedl of Devo, Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham of New Order, Nick McCabe of The Verve, and Denise Johnson of Primal Scream, they all came together to create a bright Synthpop debut that has all the trappings of your favorite New Wave bands.
However, ShadowParty is more than just the renowned groups its members hail from – they have created a contemporary album complete with catchy guitar melodies and full orchestral arrangements. Set to release Friday, July 27, 2018 via Mute, ShadowParty’s eponymous debut is full of catchy tracks that clearly draw from from the Synthpop and New Wave greats of the past, but the band have created their own unique fingerprint in the process.
Perhaps the catchiest track on the album is opener and lead single “Celebrate.” Kicking off with a simple synth beat, clean guitar melodies, and soft verses, the song builds to a bright, Poppy chorus that proclaims “We got a reason to celebrate.” With accessible tones and lyrics, “Celebrate” makes for a stellar opener. Perhaps also the most contemporary-sounding track, the song makes for a great lead-in to darker, more classic sounding efforts like “Taking Over” and “Reverse the Curse.”
“Taking Over” is easily one of the most enjoyable tracks, thanks in part to a pleasing guitar melody, brooding bass-heavy synths, and a chorus/verse combination that beg to be sung along to. With clear nods to its members original bands, “Taking Over” leans heavily into its influences – in the best way.
Similarly, “Reverse the Curse” sounds as though it is drawn directly from New Order’s catalogue, mixed with a healthy dash of Depeche Mode and maybe a little sprinkle of Bauhaus. The result is a delicious, deep, and dark offering filled with heavy snyths and an echoing beat. Thought it may sound eerily similar to some of those bands, “Reverse the Curse” is a promising standout.
Keeping with contemporary Synthpop vibe woven throughout ShadowParty, “Present Tense” combines a Smiths-sounding guitar riff with a plucky piano and up-tempo beat, though its lyrics tell a somber tale of failed romance. Bolstered by swooping guest vocals from Johnson, “Present Tense” is easily the track with the most character. Later tracks like “Vowel Movement,” “Truth,” and closer “The Valley” also stick very closely to the band’s influences, resulting in solid, catchy songs that sometimes lack that new and exciting personality found in “Celebrate” and “Present Tense.” That said, no two tracks sound too similar, each borrowing from a wide spectrum of influences.
Even with less exciting efforts like “Marigold” and “Even So,” ShadowParty have crafted a solid debut that is a treat to listen to. Lovingly crafted by industry veterans, this album is perfect for those New Wave and Synthpop fans longing for something new and exciting. With a little something for everybody, there are sure to be several tracks that catch your attention. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives ShadowParty 4 out of 5 stars.