In this day and age where everyone seems nostalgic for days long gone, we’re being bombarded by a great many artists capitalise on. This very feeling by releasing music that tries to combine the old with the new, with varying success. Indeed, the whole indie scene seems to consist solely of nudges and winks to days long past and more often than not it comes across as sounding insincere and forced. I’ve heard quite few popular artists who did their absolute best to emulate the sounds of the 50s and 60s (at least, over here in the Netherlands) and now, in 2013, I’ve even started to hear the cheesy sounds of the 80s in new music. More often than not these “homages” to the past fail to realise their intent. Enter City of Satellites with their debut EP The Momentary Mask, a release that shows friend and foe that it’s possible to pay respects to a different musical age while still managing to come off as fresh.
City of Satellites are three people from two different countries banding together to create an interesting blend of post-rock, dream pop, shoegaze and 80s pop. This is their first EP with new guitarist/producer Drew Sullivan (of Slow Dancing Society) who brings a decent amount of fresh and atmospheric guitar wizardry to the table.
The title track of the album immediately kicks off with a wonderful mixture of shoegaze and 80s pop, reverberated guitars and perky bass and airy drums. You can really hear the deep respect that the guys have for their 80s roots while tactfully omitting the pitfalls of ‘bad’ 80s music. The only thing that seems out of place are the vocals that sound more like they were put on top of the track instead of mixed in with the music. This doesn’t diminish the track in any way though, it just takes some getting used to.
“Plastic Love Progression” starts off with a sample of sirens and some synth percussion reminiscent of “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins and more of the dreamy, shoegaze like guitar. All the problems (if I can even call them that) I had with the vocals on the album opener are swiftly lost and forgotten in the thick atmosphere and interesting sonic details. “Belvedere” starts off as the most contemporary sounding track on the album until the intro turns into the first verse. The track sounds like a perfect way to slow things down a bit and it would certainly do well as a live track (hint, hint) what with the somewhat repetitive lyrics that should be sang by the audience. The last track on the EP the promisingly sounding “You’ll Feel Better Tomorrow” slows things down even more and takes the shape of an interestingly intimate power ballad that wraps things up quite nicely with lots of reverb, delay and yearning lyrics.
The whole EP sounds like the guys have been playing together for years and even though they’re clearly trying to imitate the sounds of days long past, they manage to improve on that sound as well as add enough stuff to make it sound fresh and new. Bonus points for the gorgeous album art. I’m looking forward to what these guys will do in the future.