(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

CD review - We Have Band, Ternion (2012)

Electro pop fits headphones as well as the dance floor

We Have Band's debut, WHB (review here), was an intriguing mix of retro synth pop and modern dance rock with an electro pop shine. Their follow up album, Ternion, still melds old school and contemporary elements, but We Have Band has honed their danceable electronic sound, expanding on earlier tracks like Divisive.

Ternion may not be as guitar focused or trippy as WHB, but it's still a richly intriguing album. The driving beats give these songs a lot of energy and the album has a very interesting flow. The opener, After All, has an insistent dance groove which collapses into the dreamy relief of Pressure On. The transition is like a high dive into a relaxed underwater world. The thoughtful electro dream pop vibe is layered with whispers and hidden secrets. We Have Band subvert the song a bit near the end by moving it into a darker space, hinting at vague dangers. But it's just part of the reverie's progression.

WHB continues to mine '80s synth pop for inspiration, hinting at New Order, Psychedelic Furs, and some of Fine Young Cannibals' soul vocals. But the retro vibe just adds flavor to the electro pop grooves that keep Ternion firmly in dance space. By mixing and matching along this continuum, the band gives each track a distinctive feel.

Take Watertight, with its springy electronic start. That intro is quickly subsumed by the edgy punch of fuzzed guitars and feedback. The dynamic shifts between noisy drive and sparser moments add depth, but the underlying beat is relentless.

That contrasts with the heavier new wave vibe of Tired of Running. The steady beat is familiar, but the flanged vocals and subtle sonic textures create a moody tension. A bit like the Who's Eminence Front meets Another Brick in the Wall at the disco, the track couples repetitive intensity with a taut restlessness. I really enjoy how We Have Band's music is just as natural for headphones as the dance floor.

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