The Michigan threesome follow up their ‘Ghosts of Miami’ album (released earlier this year) with a brand new 5 song E.P titled ‘Echos’.
One of the more distinctive vocal synth-pop acts in the genre, the band’s August offering is a shining, well-polished keepsake of what we all know and love as the Von Kaiser formula. The E.P is packed with retro backlines and dreamy synths, all tied together in a very neat production with Mouatt’s patented mix of vocal breaks, falsetto drops and breathy sustains standing front and center. If Echos does anything it reveals this magic recipe that has made Von Kaiser so beloved. 'Echos of the Sun' opens the record and immediately it sets the mood and the singing is really smooth here, the best of all the vocal melodies. I expect this one to clock up some chunky plays on Spotify, especially for that wonderful guitar solo breakdown however short. It's an instant favourite from the moment I pushed play!
'Echos of Us' kicks off with a lovely little riff that dissolves way too quickly yet gets traded in for an ethereal vocal call back that’s full of 80's fizz-pop glory which I love. This song has all that VK goodness but is just a little too long at 5 and a quarter minutes in my opinion. After the 4 minute mark there is a delightful swell and swirl of tones only to repeat the chorus over. It was at this moment I imagined we might hear some epic key change crescendo to blow out the ending but alas it gently simmered away. 'Echos in the Sky ' gives us yet another amazing intro with a special little riff that is just so darn beautiful it steals a sacred slice of my soul every time it returns between parts. Mouatt hammers out those mind pictures with the unforgettable line “oceans in the sky”, some crafty lyricism here that you know is hacking into your subconscious. Dare I say its a tad to lengthy for me but definitely a track to see out a summer sunset with.
'Echos of 1984' definitely feels like THE radio hit. It has an arpeggiated pattern that is so reminiscent of U2’s rhythmic guitar weave that it activates that part of your brain we all know never moved on in 40 years. The chorus on this track is the secret sauce, it’s the catchiest on the E.P and I have a feeling it's also going to be a massive fan favourite. Perfectly paced and constructed, Echos of 1984 nearly hits the 6 minute mark and I never even noticed!
Echos in Space is a master craft of “moody synth”, it’s also the big emotional number, the ‘break up’ song, the ‘my-cop-buddy-just-died’ epic! (you know the one!) Lots of forlorn vocals that hit you in feels. A seven minute epic that delivers the big finale. Echos in Space will go into my personal ‘sad song’ playlist. Overall ‘Echos’ is another fine record from Von Kaiser, it delivers everything you’d expect and, considering it's only a few months since the album, the band has pumped out another quality record for the fans! You can tell they’re trying to catch you with that big vocal hook in each song, vying for a place in your ‘end of summer’ playlist. The record may not be as diverse as other contemporary releases this year, there is no over-ambitious middle 8s, or fantastical breakdowns and at times it felt a lot more vocal heavy than usual but the E.P format has only so many tracks to offer.
As one of their biggest fans I’m definitely not complaining, Echos will probably be cited as the best vocal retro synth pop E.P of 2020, but I guess I’m still waiting to see what new creative places the VK formula can take us next!
Favourite Track: Echos of 1984
Least Favourite: N/A
'Echos' can is now available on your preferred streaming devices. Please consider buying the digital album here: https://vonkaiser.bandcamp.com/album/echos-2