Many current artists attempt to sound retro in style, but Derek Bishop successfully does so to an extent that makes the listener wonder if he is really from our decade or not. His nostalgic album Bicycling in Quicksand is completely unadulterated by modern music, and instead, it sounds as if it has been released straight out of a ‘70s/’80s era studio. Funky, groovy, and super far out, Bicycling in Quicksand is a fantastic work that fans of disco and golden oldies will surely dig.
The album’s sound as a whole heavily revolves around synthesizers and keyboards with stylistic infusions from genres such as salsa, new age and dance. The first track “Backburning” easily vies as the best song on the album. Bouncing from chord to chord and never fully resolving, the ever-changing melodies are held together by a solid drum beat and steady strumming. Throughout the next few tracks, bright synthesizes provide a surprisingly playful and carefree tone to the energetic anthems.
“Baggage,” heralded as the catchy single of the album, does have its appeal, but when the album is listened to in its entirety, the single is somewhat lost in the midst of similar-sounding tracks that conceal its charm. “Taffy,” on the other hand, catches the listener’s ears at once, due to its initial emphasis on guitars, which is complemented by ethereal background vocals and spacey synths.
Every track on the album is vibrant without fail, pushing the energy bar higher and higher as the album progresses. The effect of this unabating exuberance is somewhat detrimental to the record, for as the listener is overly bombarded with cheery, ebullient songs, variety is noticeably absent.
Derek Bishop’s voice is nothing extraordinary, but he possesses a great talent in that he can provide coherence to his music through his vocals. Throughout the album, he is joined by various instruments, background harmonies and choirs singing along to his songs but his unique voice predominantly guides and leads the music. Altogether, Bicycling in Quicksand definitely deserves a listen - if not all at once than perhaps in smaller, more manageable doses.
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