Release Date: Oct 11, 2011
Record label: Wierd
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Up to now, the problem with coldwave has been an atmospheric one, in that the music has none. If the various players are to successfully reanimate French Eighties synthwave - that forgotten world of fraying wires and misguided pop ambition - it's essential they capture the atmosphere of the original music, or crucially - that of the era. It'll mean the difference between unquantifiable magic and the sound of three people in a studio trying very hard to sound detached.
Sets & Lights is Brooklyn duo Xeno & Oaklander's third album overall and second for analog-fixated NYC label Wierd. It's also their best release yet, but it it takes some time to sink in. The sounds that X&O (Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride) make are regularly referred to as "coldwave"-- deadpan D.I.Y. post-punk filtered through brutal drum machines and synth lines so brittle and thin you could practically snap them over your knee.
Bands drawing on ’80s synth-pop have hardly been scarce these last few years, but the latest missive from New Yorkers [a]Xeno & Oaklander[/a] is not the work of dilettantes. Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride have the Human League/Thomas Dolby textures down to a tee but, crucially, they haven’t skimped on the songwriting, and ‘[b]Blue[/b]’ and ‘[b]Autumn’s Edge[/b]’, with their hypnotic shared vocals, revolve around delicious melodies. The industrial edges of 2009’s ‘[b]Sentinelle[/b]’ have been smoothed out in favour of a Giorgio Moroder pulse, while the Italo-tinged ‘[b]Italy[/b]’ arrives just in time to be a balmy late-summer hit, if a rather unimaginatively titled one.[i]Frances Morgan[/i] .