The sum of every guitar flutter, bassline throb and drum beat that brings electric85 to the culmination of their sound, on the album “Oceans Away”, is elegantly and thoughtfully executed. It’s the perfect balance of the sweetness, grittiness, subtlety and melodic intoxication that will make them one of the more interesting indie bands of the alternative and dream pop genres to emerge with a new album this year. The vocals can shift expertly from ethereal whispers to a rich, lulling soar, adapting the voice almost imperceptibly to the mood. The guitars, meanwhile, help to create the world in which the vocals can flourish – a vortex of texture, groove and space.
electric85 is Ian Piña & Kent Worthington. They launched their collaboration during the darkest hours of February 2020, when music was the only escape. Drawing from influences that come from disco, pop, rock and dance, electric85 replaced the initial guitar loops and samples, replacing them with collaborations by musicians in England and France, to complete an album that resonates with warm electricity.
Rather than just looking to the past for inspiration there are also signs that electric85 have been absorbing themselves in forward-thinking electro-pop. These wide influences are enough to incrementally develop the band’s immersive sound, with the listener becoming enveloped in its rolling waves of blissful groove. The album starts with the gentle harmonic sheen of “Phenomena”, which quickly establishes the band’s lyrical capacity.
“Mirror stands where I want you. Living room with the wrong view, and a ghost staring through you. When you’re upside down. Truth is turned around, and the frequency trapped inside the walls. Keep your mask on. Keep you mind strong,” sing electric85, remaining poetically poignant, and eloquently vivid.
The upbeat and jangling “4th State of Mind” segues into the mid-tempo “Followers”, demonstrating how brilliantly electric85 are able to switch tones without losing the thread of the record.
The layered call-and-response styled harmonies continue to thrill on “Unify The World”, as does the guitar work, while the fleshed out arrangement of “Don’t Panic” adds a sense of sweeping urgency to the proceedings.
“These Are the Good Times” is simply arresting, and gives the record a sense of complexity, both lyrically and musically. The vocals again, are beautifully stacked here, for maximum impact. “Tomorrow’s Life” ups the rhythmic ante, with galloping drums, fiery guitars and falsetto vocal interludes.
Track-by-track, each song has its merits, building upon the last, to create a completely enticing whole. This trend continues brilliantly with “Leader”, the funky “Dance Alone” and the sumptuously orchestrated “Midnight Cowboy”. But more than that, each track shows that there is no such thing as repetition when you have the talent and confidence, to let your music create its own immersive world.
On the album “Oceans Away”, electric85 has leaned into the sheer depth of their music. It is a blend of sonic beauty melding into perfect, precise pieces of music which are equal parts inventive and masterful. Along the way, electric85 has injected these songs with an abundance of melody, harmony and mood.