Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Front Runner - Andre Obin
SCQ Rating: 75%
Titled after the notion that autonomy can outperform the chasing pack, Front Runner weighs the benefits and hindrances of going it alone. On the plus side, this latest EP finds Obin working amid the perfect loner-parameters, given how synth-pop is essentially equivalent to a slow bloodletting on the dancefloor. All of its oily passageways and nihilistic tendencies are in full bloom over tracks like the incendiary ‘Valencia’, with its scathing radio-signaled-in chorus, and ‘Gazelle’, which helps itself to M83’s deep saws and tight beats. Founded on such nocturnal and malevolence moods, Front Runner’s sharpest material would feel inappropriate in the light of day, or anywhere remotely attached to one’s regular routine.
That’s the problem with such a narrow sonic focus and, had Obin stuck with his devious Depeche Mode influences throughout, Front Runner might’ve relegated itself to strictly weekend-listening. Thankfully Obin counteracts these aggressive numbers with more androgynous tracks, still hopelessly thick-skinned, but thoughtful and versatile enough for daily soundtracks. Padded, if no less propulsive, than ‘Valencia’ is ‘Golden Hair’, a 4/4 synth-trip that crests alongside distance vocals. Surrounding this late highlight are two instrumentals, ‘The North Sea’ and ‘Gossamer’, each just as indispensable for letting in frosty rays of light to give Front Runner a lighter touch. Ultimately these instrumentals serve Obin by shifting the EP into a gleaming neutral, hinted at on ‘The Arsonist’; a dreamy pace-keeper that fades out quickly just when you’d expect it to explode. Yes, Andre Obin succeeds well ahead of the pack on Front Runner’s synth-pop pursuits, but his strategy to stay ahead may rest in slowing things down.