By: Calum Slingerland –
The eighties is largely regarded by many as a decade when synth-pop was born. A predominant style of the times riddled with more keyboard work and catchy hooks that any person could handle. With bands like Depeche Mode, Erasure, and the Human League popularizing the style, synth pop has seen somewhat of a resurgence over the past few years. One such group honoring these influences is Death in the Afternoon, a four-piece group hailing from Sweden. Their latest effort, Kino, sees them deliver a diverse mix of electro-infused tracks, ranging from upbeat and dancy, to sweeping and brooding with the result is a very enjoyable listen.
Kino sets the upbeat pace straight from the get-go with “Oh Youth!” The band’s synth stabs and pulses rise and fall to create a very groovy opening track, while ethereal, lead singer Christian’s falsetto vocals glide effortlessly overtop. The feeling continues right through to the next track “Francis & The City,” this time with washes of keyboards taking hold along with the simplistic, commanding rhythm section. “Fandango” and “Villains” are two other tracks which truly give a nod to synth pop of the eighties with their infectiously dancy nature.
Aside from playing the ‘classic eighties dance club hits’ card, Death in the Afternoon also bring something to the table in terms of slower, more relaxed numbers, which Kino also makes sure to deliver. “OKOK” is a beautifully constructed piece which is remindful of something fellow Swedes Miike Snow would do, only spacier. “Tricks” is truly a masterpiece, plodding along with its dense, electronic soundscapes, while also featuring vocals drenched in echo. “Spain” follows in the same footsteps, offering a delicate electric guitar line over layers upon layers of keys in what is a great closer to the record.
Kino is an excellent piece of work to add to the synth-pop revival canon. It is an album that showcases Death in the Afternoon’s appreciation for both all-out dance tracks and introspective numbers, while also showing listeners how well they can craft both through their sound. It successfully kept me engaged from start to finish.
Essential Tracks: “Francis & The City,” “OKOK,” and “Tricks.”