Aug 2012 20

Twitch the Ripper - ColorblindTwitch the Ripper
Category: Synthpop
Album: Colorblind
Stars: 4.5
Blurb: So nuanced, catchy, and hypnotic that you will wish this album had a physical manifestation of its wonderful retro spirit for you to gawk at and admire.


After supporting God Module on their Séance tour earlier this year, Twitch the Ripper finally delivers on its promise and returns with this second full-length album. Released under the mighty wings of Metropolis Records, Colorblind has every right to be a breakthrough that the duo from Connecticut deserves. Developing their appreciation for eclectic brands of synthpop even further than they did on the Bodiless debut, Twitch the Ripper emerges with a formula that is reliant on, compulsory for the genre, gentle synths and melodic vocals, but is never anything less than wonderfully mesmerizing.

Twitch the Ripper seems to benefit greatly from the presence of producer Mark Saunders (a collaborator on, among others, A-Ha’s Foot of the Mountain and The Cure’s Wish) who took upon himself the task of mixing Colorblind, helping to polish it into the state of utter perfection. If it wasn’t for this slavish attention to every detail of the musical façade, the entire album could be easily mistaken for some lost brethren of the Moog era. In fact, this record borrows so much from the distinct instrumentation that you could find in the work of Ultravox or Duran Duran that the experience with Colorblind is defined entirely by the band’s attempt to fashion a fitting homage while extending the value of classic, undiluted electro-pop into the contemporary scene.

This quality is not obvious from the get go since opening track “Safe House” occupies a strange middle ground between a rather IDM heavy arrangement and completely absorbing, emotional vocal. It’s a track arranged on the threshold between modern industrial taste and old school fascination. As if the album was deliberately easing the listener in step by step, revealing its retro soul, the mood shifts and adjusts with each subsequent track. “Strange Behavior” is a cheerful hit that could’ve easily slipped into the mainstream consciousness some 20 years ago and you will find yourself immediately humming alongside the chorus. “Foundations” and “Take Me to Oblivion” are based around seemingly simplistic and more deliberate melodies, but they come to life because instead of relying on a single hook, they methodically add subtle elements. Both don’t attempt to exhaust their mood but confidently and patiently build up to an effective climax.

The greatest distinction that one can make between the work of Twitch the Ripper on Colorblind and those synthpop patterns that they assimilated is how rich in comparison it appears to be. Instead of simply recycling and repeating, TTR is dead set on enhancing the experience while preserving its unique atmosphere. To give an example, “Hard to Love” is soaked with an erotic vibe reminiscent of the discotheque magnetism that you only find outside of the dubstep-raving dance floors and in the realm occupied by visualizations of Bret Easton Ellis’ literary bohemia. And while there is something in the sound that constantly stimulates your imagination to produce a vivid backdrop of stroboscopic pinks and greens and Miami Vice-esque fashion, the experience is rich and textured in a way impossible before, crafted from several intertwining sounds and melodies and brilliantly polyphonic.

Colorblind is an album that unapologetically taps into nostalgia for the pop music of the ‘80s. So assured is Twitch the Ripper that this total stylization of their material is capable of sustaining an entire record that Colorblind never attempts to transcend its roots; roots that are planted, firmly and recognizably, in the back catalog of classic acts like New Order or Tears for Fears. This is perhaps the only fault that one can find on an otherwise faultless track list. Gentlemen Jon Dobyn and Lonn Bologna never challenge themselves with undermining this saccharine aesthetic nor are they compelled to reinvent it. Instead, they are transfixed by a limitless emotional potential of precisely structured pop that, in return, grants them grace to overcome the danger of lapsing from pastiche into unintended parody. The album flows through romantic shades of songs like “Shimmers” or “What the Moon Brings” and settles without any obvious change in pace or style in closing “Not a Soul in Sight.” Each track is there for the listener to cherish and savor with patience.

This sophomore release might be a happy throwback to the ‘80s, but will hopefully set the future path for Twitch the Ripper; one which will help shape and define the synthpop scene for years to come – not necessarily because of its inseparable affiliation with the era that gave birth to it but because it makes it feel overwhelmingly exciting without radically changing it. Even if Colorblind ultimately owes more to the past than it is able to offer to contemporaneous music, it is still a massively entertaining and brilliantly crafted achievement.
Track list:

  1. Safe House
  2. Strange Behavior
  3. Foundations
  4. Take Me to Oblivion
  5. Rabid
  6. We Won’t Talk About It
  7. Hard to Love
  8. Shimmers
  9. What the Moon Brings
  10. No Expression
  11. Chameleon
  12. Not a Soul in Sight

Twitch the Ripper Website
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Metropolis Records Website
Metropolis Records MySpace
Metropolis Records Facebook
Metropolis Records Twitter
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)

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