B-Movie Lightning is the project of Irish musician Mike Smalle, also of electronic group Cane 141. At its best, Rain on a River—Smalle’s debut as B-Movie Lightning—recalls the sun-drenched, effervescent synthpop of that Galway-based group. Opener “Triple Trouble” is a particular highlight (and obvious single), buoyed by hiccupping synths, bright horn flourishes, and an especially infectious vocal line. “The Spooky West” and “A Country Mile” offer up equally appealing, if weightless, slices of electro-pop, the latter stretching into a moody, synthetic instrumental postlude.
The album outstays its charm, though, with many of Smalle’s songs dragging past the four-minute mark. At its worst, Rain on a River sounds like the sort of hollow, tuneless electro-pop anyone could compose with the right synth pads. The instrumental “Theme From B-Movie Lightning” is particularly illustrative of this: 4/4 drum programming, layered Casio-style synth lines, and cringe-worthy processed vocals, with hardly a unique melodic idea to be found. “Theme” is the weakest track here, but nothing on Side B offers much of anything new instrumentally or melodically. For now, I’ll keep spinning “Triple Trouble”.
// Notes from the Road
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