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(All Hands Electric; US: 12 Jul 2011; UK: import)

The kind of synth-heavy dance music Psychobuildings tries on their new EP can often come off as distant, sometimes rendered cold by all those machines whirring, other times by ironic anachronism. This band has a few new tricks up its sleeve, though, that make these songs sound fresh, exciting, and often super-catchy. For one, they weave blood-and-bone immediacy into the mix, with the quivering bass line that shakes up “Portrait” or the funky guitar that warms the otherwise spacious “Paradise”. They also know how to vary their style, from the funk-slow-jam “Terminal Phase” to the thumping “No Man’s Land”, which could serve as the soundtrack to the chase scene in a futuristic police drama. So, yeah, the band does a lot in under 20 minutes, but it’s frontman Peter LaBier that brings it all together. He sings with urgency and words roll off his tongue with speed and fluidity of a freestyle rapper, but the strident melodicism of his voice also calls to mind any of your favorite mid-‘80s pop singers. His voice cuts through the glittering fray of these songs, giving them a human edge they need. This may be dance music conjured out of machines, but it pulses like something that is very much alive. Sure it’s a bit short, and really the EP buys the band time to finish its first full-length, but there’s a lot of promise in these punchy tunes.


Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.

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