Kingslynn transform the dream of the '80s into paradise and transform history in the process.
The movement of '80s culture represents a kind of betrayal. First, the fiery revolution of punk rock and its gradual refinement into post-punk, and its mission to "rip it up and start again," as it expanded punk's vocabulary to include non-Western music and the futurist visions of early electronic music, like Kraftwerk and the early Detroit Techno.
Synth pop was firmly rooted in futurism, in the thought that there must be something better, something new, something we hadn't thought of yet. Newer was assumed to better and anything vaguely old-fashioned was viewed with skepticism, laughed out of the room.
That's where the bait and switch happened, as synth pop gradually succumbed to traditional songwriting and structures, and became rock 'n roll, or bubblegum pop, played on synthesizers and drum machines. In the process, it became the soundtrack to '80s hedonism, presaging the onslaught of the global marketplace and of "late capitalism.” If there was a heaven, you were going to have to buy your way in.
Along the way, utopia eventually gave way to the approximation of a hologram of peaceful living, like the beautiful Eloi, living their beautiful dreams, while the rage of the working-class Morlocks drove the machinery that ran civilization, in H. G. Wells' prophetic The Time Machine.
The tendency towards '80s sounds, in culture, represents, on one hand, traditional nostalgia, probably from children of the '90s who were not alive to witness the Reagan era, and on a deeper level, it represents a tentative step back towards futurism; a faint glimmer of hope that there may, in fact, be something better than this.
Contrast Kingslynn's Dreamer EP with the corroded and despairing sounds of the 2000s with bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the difference is immediately obvious. That was the sound of dancing among the wreckage, the last gasps of a decadent culture, post-apocalyptical in its fullest. The Dreamer EP is still decadent music, but it is the sound of members of a declining civilization, dreaming of hope, dreaming of clouds and stars, of an end of battle and suffering.
Almost every sound on this short document is entirely synthesized, apart from the vocals and a tambourine. Kingslynn sculpt strings and angelic pads from their keyboards. They cite dreamy electronic-ists like M83 and Tycho as influences, but they could just as easily cite the Miami Vice soundtrack, The Chromatics and Debbie Gibson. Their drum programming is simple but solid, providing a solid foundation for Evelyn Grace's pearlescent vocals. Kingslynn manage to sound epic without succumbing to melodrama. The record was mixed and mastered by David A. Molina in his bedroom studio and sounds amazingly rich and full for its humble origins. Kingslynn is an ambitious outfit; it takes real work and dedication to make a home recording sound this good. I predict that the next one will be in a fully outfitted studio.
This is the sound of finding heaven on the dance floor. This is the sound of driving to an emerald coast in a souped-up Maserati. This is the soundtrack for looking for portents and omens at the shopping mall. Kingslynn is not running from the future; they are not afraid of it. They are dreaming it, summoning it, embracing it.
Here's to the resuscitation of hope!
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