Release Date: Mar 22, 2011
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic
The music made during New Order's fantastic streak in the 1980s often carried a tragic, crestfallen tone-- understandable results for a band that emerged from Joy Division's still-fresh remains. But that large period of the band's work contains a euphoric feeling of escapism as well; it's still too easy, after all, to put on a song like "Bizarre Love Triangle" or "This Time of Night" and lose yourself to a place of limitless bliss. It's that electronic escapism that flushes the cheeks of Baltimore-based electronic musician Benny Boeldt's sophomore effort as Adventure, Lesser Known.
Adventure’s first album dabbled with 8-bit chips, but on his second, he changed up his sound for 2011’s glossier Lesser Known. The kitsch factor is still high, lush with cheesy synthesizers, bubbling bass tones, vintage drum machines, and a sugary vocal wash. However, what starts out rooted in chillwave and VHS montage scenes morphs toward the second half of the album, as the man behind the curtain, Benny Boeldt, exchanges his Yazz and Pet Shop Boys influences for acid house and rave beats.
I feel like nostalgia plays an abnormal role in the lives of young adults in America. It’s always been a powerful tool for marketing and propaganda — just talk to an aging boomer about the 60s or look at the way some right wing politicians fetishize the 50s — but the fact that right now a bunch of young men and women living in what is commonly held to be the prime of their lives are walking around wearing t-shirts spangled with Rainbow Brite or an NES control pad… I’d say that’s pretty unique. Moreover, considering that psychologists are starting to put forward a new stage of development known as emerging adulthood as a halfway step between our teen years and our role as full-grown adults, I’m starting to wonder if it’s entirely healthy.
It’s no surprise to find Baltimore’s Benny Boeldt, labelmate and pal of [a]Toro Y Moi[/a], still firmly rooting his [a]Adventure[/a] project in ’80s retro-pop. Bright Technicolor subverts [b]‘Feels Like Heaven’[/b]’s clanking machinery and adorns [b]‘Smoke And Mirrors’[/b]’ coiffed and couth [a]Pet Shop Boys[/a]-cum-Brooklyn disco. What disappoints, though, is how numbingly comfortable he is within these nostalgic boundaries.Which is frustrating given that [b]‘Lesser Known’[/b] occasionally shows glimpses of real promise.
It’s no surprise that Baltimore resident and electronic music artist Benny Boeldt, who records as Adventure, is great friends with fellow Baltimorean and electronic music superstar Dan Deacon. Both men favor the synth sounds of ‘80s video games in their music. But while Deacon takes these sounds and twists them into bizarre new contexts, Adventure’s self-titled first album sounded like it could’ve actually been the soundtrack to a Sega Genesis game.