Concept Albums are a veritable minefield at the best of times. You have to hope that the narrative you want to achieve delivers at all points so as not to lose any credibility relative to the story you want to portray. Synthwave in of itself is routed in concept and there are certain musicians that excel at placing you at a date and time that are simply unmatched. You know, those 80’s movie emotions…whether you’re standing in your favourite Arcade having blasted your highest score or at a High school dance with your school crush, imagination is a powerful tool and when tethered to a great score or track it takes it to a whole new level. It’s that perfect score to a faux film we’re all sure we’ve seen but can’t place.
Enter ‘Computronic’. A solo artist project by self-taught Canadian Producer Sean Cusson. Born in 1972, Sean was raised on AM radio and cheesy movies, a love that continues to this very day. His music is as much a love letter to the 80s movies of his youth as it is to the Pop/Hair Metal/Rock music he would listen to for hours on end. Having signed with Timeslave Recordings three or so years back he had notable success with the back story for what I’m about to review today.
His first album, Even the Score marked the beginning of a 4 album/story arc all taking place within the same city. Each album is built on the bricks of 80's nostalgia and intended to immerse the listener in a full movie experience by including original dialogue/scenes created to feel as though they were taken right from the movie itself. Starting with this second album, Lost and Found, a sub character from the previous story will be the center of not only a new story but also a completely different 80's movie genre giving the listener a familiar thread while keeping the experience fresh each time.
As the story goes for the premiere concept release it showcases a high school graduate named Rick Donald who learns the arcade that he works for is being sold, a stranger then shows up and beats Rick at his favourite game. Rick enters the Megacade Tournament to try and win his pride back and hopefully the 1st prize which is enough cash to buy the Arcade he dearly loves, now…doesn’t that sound like a film you’d like to watch? Cut to three years later and the album I’m about to review is the story of Lenny, an Alien searching for his wife on Earth and Tommy Skors the defeated Arcade champ from ‘Even the score’ tries to help him…I’ve a feeling I’m about to go on an adventure. Cover me…I’m going in….
Lost & Found
The album opens with Alien dialogue. I was certainly amused by it but it sets the tone of the track ‘Nothing I Won’t do’ from the outset by jumping straight into the story. Lonigan is on a routine scouting patrol which was interrupted by a transmission suggesting a Scout they dispatched to survey Earth has been lost. Having found out that’s it’s his wife he sets about to find her. The narrative breaks and we’re plunged into an Andrew McCarthyesque like musical romp of 80’s proportions which grew on me with each and every listen. The electric guitar in this is a stand out and provided by the one and only ‘Powernerd Paddy’. We’re off to a good start, it’s promising.
The story continues in an Electronics Store where the customer recognizes the defeated champion from ‘Even the Score’ Tommy Skors. The line...” Meh there’s so much more to life than video games” sounds like a line he’d been repeatedly telling himself since his defeat but as the customer plants the seed relative to a Video Game Tournament next year…will he give it one last try? ‘One more round’ feat Becca Starr ' takes things at a slower pace but we’re still immersed somewhat in the 80’s. It’s a nice track, its skips along gainfully. I can’t say that it grabs me though and I’m not sure why. Lyrically it delivers and there’s no denying the quality of Becca Starr’s voice. The end of the track does have a great message in not letting fear dictate any chance you may have. I like that.
Track 3 is ‘The Space between us’ where we pick up with Lonigan who has just docked on Earth on a mission to find his wife. Whilst docking he runs into a bit of trouble which damages the ship and he has to hide. About 30 seconds in the track slides into your eardrums and it just about perfect. It gives me all those 80’s Bowie vibes in Chad Spaz’s vocal whether intentional or not, nevertheless I thought it was perfectly judged. A contender for my favourite track for sure. The very end of the song sets the next phase up beautifully. You’ll know what I mean when you listen to it IN ORDER!
Track 4 has Mike Orvis in it…. SOLD! Next track please…. Ha, I guess I should go in here a little. Having one half of Glitterwølf on your track certainly lends a lot of gravitas and there’s no denying Orvis’s vocal ability. I’m deliberately leaving the story narrative out here as there’s only so much you can say without giving out spoiler alerts left, right and center. I quite like the punchy synths in this it has to be said. ‘Make it work’ has got an anthemesque quality about it that to be honest has already bought some prime real estate in my ear cavities where no doubt it’ll languish in splendour for a time.
The title track ‘Lost and Found’ is next up and the story of Lonigan continues. We slow it down, right down for this one. I’ve never been one for tracks at a slower pace probably PTSD from school discos and rejection but it’s a nice interlude. It’s not for me regrettably but then what do I know? I can appreciate it still and I don’t want to be judging it too harshly it doesn’t deserve that as It’s got a nice melody. A bit to cool for my school perhaps.
Next track starts with a narrative about Hotdogs, yes. Hotdogs! ‘Postcards’ is a lovely little Synth interlude. Its refreshing and paced beautifully. It won’t set your Synth world on fire but so what? I can appreciate it for what it is and it’s a track I’ll revisit again and again.
It’s 4 m 15 secs of escapism.
Next up we have ‘Starlight’ feat Becca Starr and takes places in Zaps Roller Rink. With a kinetic enhancer (you’ll hear why) Tommy sets about bathing in the Spotlight until something awful but inevitable happens. The track itself is a poppy, synthy little treat which remarkably makes you want to go Roller Skating. Well played Computronic, well played! It’s got that ‘Can you feel it’ Jackson 5 vibe that grabs a hold of your hand and steadies you as you glide around the rink hitting those coloured spotlights.
The rest of this concept Album plays out with the best intentions and hits the mark spot on. ‘Ride of a Lifetime’ which is the 7th track is a sure-fire winner for me. It’s car chasing, rule breaking, pure Synth fun. Another meaty vocal delivery by the Orvis assures the listener that they are as the track suggests going on the ride of a lifetime. It’s hard not to draw comparisons to all those 80’s montage car chases you’d see in the likes of Beverly Hills Cop movies, “Now..I don’t wanna step on your tongues..excuse me”
In summation this is some great work by Computronic. It achieves what it set out to do which is to totally immerse you in another world & heck we can all do with some of that right about now.
It’s a worthy addition to your playlist libraries!
Favourite Track: Tied – Ride of a Lifetime & The Space between us
Least Favourite: Lost and Found
Lost and Found can is now available on your preferred streaming devices. Please consider buying the digital album here: https://computronic.bandcamp.com/album/lost-and-found