Jun 2011 20

Cover Image
Category: New Wave / Electro-pop
Album: Shifting
Stars: 3
Blurb: A nicely arranged ‘80s new wave styled album that consistently stumbles over its vocals.


Constantly fine tuning and readapting its sound, Phenotract’s third album, Shifting is easily its most low-key and retro effort to date. While Phenotract’s previous album largely showed very distinctive traces of house techno and harder electronic elements, Shifting runs from the dance floor vibe of the past and instead goes for a quaint, calm, and thoughtful style. Unfortunately, this more easygoing and unobtrusive sound brings the vocals to center stage, and sadly they don’t stand up to the glare of the spotlight very well.

The vocal style used in the album can best be described as the ambivalent, flat and tonally challenged style that is frequently heard from a church congregation going through the motions for the week’s hymns. Throughout, the listener will find very fun songs they want to enjoy like “Way Back (Falls Apart)” with its Breakin’ feel or “Full Circle Again” and “In the Clear” with their catchy synth, but will instead grimace as the vocals repeatedly dare the listener to look past them. There are really wonderful moments of gleeful composition like that in “Rise to the Surface” and some very memorable lyrical work like “Relive and Forget,” but the vocal delivery will leave many wishing the album had been purely instrumental.

Shifting is definitely a challenge of an album with the many things it does so wonderfully making the things it does badly all the more painful. With an uplifting and poppy new wave sound similar in style to work from bands like New Order, Phenotract excels at fun and nostalgia inducing arrangements, but vocal missteps seriously hinder what is otherwise a very charming and pleasant album.
Track list:

  1. Unreal Highs
  2. Way Back (Falls Apart)
  3. Out of Sequence
  4. Blinded
  5. Separate Places
  6. To Breathe
  7. Full Circle Again
  8. Rise to the Surface
  9. In the Clear
  10. Relive and Forget

Phenotract Website http://www.phenotract.com
Phenotract MySpace http://www.myspace.com/phenotract
Phenotract Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phenotract/142398800780
Phenotract Twitter http://twitter.com/phenotract
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Trubie Turner (Flexei)

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