Zynic – Blindsided

Escape artist starts delicately and continues in that vein even when the bass part is joined by the pads that echo around the track leading to the chorus, there are a lot of clever sounds and treatments going on here, short echoed sounds, deeper filtered effects and chiming bell type leads all nicely placed and not competing but complementing the way they should be but all so hard to achieve properly.

Dead end is immediately one of my favourite songs of the album, a modern feel and a very good song but with all the synthpop elements in place, starting out almost industrial but launching into one of the, what turns out to be multiple hooks! A pleasant and bouncy track until you listen to the lyrics “your eyes shine so bright, tell your mum you won’t come home tonight, tomorrow with the tide, it will look like suicide”! Not so pleasant now! There are plenty of clever filtered synthesiser sounds moving about in the mix with drops and rises, and an excellent middle eight with one of the themes featuring in instrumental form.

Cardiac Arrest opens with a spoken sound sample and the now familiar synthetic doodles and another great chorus with a clever almost Mesh like power to the orchestration. Not unlike them in song construction and the way the songs pause and then jumps together with almost everything stopping just to feature one part, they also are able to shift the songs in an entirely different direction almost at will without it sounding wrong.  A nice piano outro ends this song. So far three songs in and three good songs!

Only Human uses that vocal sample sound that was made popular by the Kawai K1, more harsh electronic drums join along with a huge synthetic backing track and bell type sounds over some synth orchestral ponderings. Once more a sing able chorus is at the heart of this song. Another memorable middle eight section contrasts perfectly and it’s into the chorus again.

Paradise Falls adds an almost Parisian accordion into the mix as this track swings along in an almost Alphaville style, something that is also apparent listening to the vocal, there’s not been many vocalist on synthpop that could compete with Marion Gold!

Hard to Breath is put together with some great pulsing synthetic sounds over a fantastic kicking rhythm track that changes direction at the chorus, this really is a clever arrangement and another brilliant song. Unusual sounds mix with a stop start mix that constantly moves and adds new elements all the way through.

Just when you thought this was just a very good album of well written and put together songs, Ghost starts and takes you to another level. This is like a modern version of the classic Depeche Mode era, when Martin Gore could just produce songs like Somebody and A Question Of Lust at will. For me this is the best song of a brilliant album. The lyrics fit perfectly, “Sometime Love is Stronger than death-Life is colder” another thing noticeable about the masterpiece is that it doesn’t follow the typical type of song structure. Just what you not expecting, the song changes slightly with some, what can only be described as ghost like voices over an electrical storm type sound that’s quite brilliant, right up to the phrase “we’re torn apart, no beating heart”! And that’s it, no more, the end. This is my favourite song of the year! Everything is right about it, perfection!

Boys of Summer was one of those songs I used to like as what’s known as a guilty pleasure, I didn’t know much about who wrote it or sung it but I would happily turn it up in the car and sing along to it without knowing the words! How a synthpop band can do a cover version of a rock guitar track only goes to show how good Zynic actually are. Everything from the original is here replaced by synthetic equivalents but the feel has been kept the same. This song makes it feel like summer has just gone! I couldn’t help but notice that a couple of the lyrics have been changed, unless it’s my ears, is that bronze skin instead of brown? And a Devo sticker instead of deadhead?

An expressive synth-vocal patch opens Thanks for nothing, with some Vince Clarke type arpeggios behind and Mesh sounds. Is it me or is this a bit like DeVision? I’m running out of things to say as I’ve used up all the good words in the English language! Sorry for the repetition but this is another really good track.

Never Enough is the final track an adds an atmospheric feel almost film like, this is very laid back and again reminds me very much of Mesh. The Olaf Wollschläger sound is clearly showing! Although a decent enough song in its own right it does come after what is an almost perfect album.

This is synthpop but not retro, it takes what eighties synthpop invented but picks up the torch and runs with it. This album is also nicely produced with a good modern sound. After a few listens you realise that this is not just another synthpop album. It’s unashamedly synthpop but with GREAT SONGS there’s more than a passing resemblance to Mesh and Alphaville but Zynic have obviously now got a sound of their own. This is THE best album I’ve heard this year.