Officially, IRIS began as a musical endeavor back in 1993, which makes this ‘sleeper hit’ of an artist 27 years old. Now, the band returns from a five-year break with 2019’s Six, a gem of an album that’s a pleasant listening experience from start to finish. Full of great harmonies, catchy melodies, and lyrics that stick in the mind, the album reaches back 20 years to touch upon the prime time of synthpop when collections like the Metropolis Records Sampler 2000 were a goldmine of musical talent, which is incidentally when IRIS’ full-length debut record Disconnect was released. The band has demonstrated the ability to build on foundations as each release seems to be an iteration on, rather than a departure from, their particular style. The ability to hold a consistent thread from a genre’s impetus up to now speaks to the creative depth that Reagan Jones and Andrew Sega share in their work on IRIS and characterizes their passion for the project. Conjuring up notes of Depeche Mode, Seabound, Covenant, and VNV Nation in all the right ways, while still sounding like a fresh take on some tried and true formulas, the production and arrangement on the record certainly shines on a decent stereo system or quality headphones, but can be a little lacking in impact on small speakers. “Third Strike” and “Joy Kill” kick off the record as some of the strongest songs offered, but they’re counterbalanced by ending on something of a flat note with a few weak tracks that could have used more time in the studio. For example, the arrangement and mixing on songs like “Final Fate” and “Out of My Mind” seem amateurish compared to the rest of the record. That said, when Six is good, it’s very good; when it isn’t, it still remains above average with great production quality. It’s worth a listen and a great refresher on what’s best about IRIS and the synthpop genre at large.