Hey remember not too long ago back in the ‘90s when catchy synth group Pulsars had that hit “Tunnel Song” that got played on the college radio stations all summer long? Or maybe you’re more familiar with The Nails’ “88 Lines About 44 Women” that was transformed into a car commercial jingle a year or two ago. Certainly you haven’t forgotten Volkswagen’s use of Trio’s “Da Da Da” in the ad about the two guys discovering a stinky piece of furniture on the side of the road. I bring these tunes up because Freezepop seems to want to have a piece of that same pie as well. Are there any more slices left?
Frankly, the 12 songs that make up Freezepop Forever are in the same league as those three songs. That is, they’re not much more than novelty numbers that would probably make good jingles. Except in Freezepop’s case, I’m not so sure that they even have a song here that would be catchy enough for the TV let alone a single. Strange how the miracles of electronic music synthesis can often ultimately paint one into a corner. This may have something to do with the fact that all 12 songs were programmed on a Yamaha QY-70, a portable battery-powered sequencer. At a glance, the QY-70 sounds like any of your kid brother’s Casio synths.
In “reality” (whatever that may be for the group), Freezepop features “The Duke of Candied Apples”, the guilty party responsible for the Yamaha, “Liz Enthusiasm” on vocals, and “The Other Sean T. Drinkwater”, a “powerhouse of synths and vocoder”. This trio has produced sprightly little numbers that would work well as a soundtrack for a movie about an icemaker dispensing ice cubes or something along those lines. The blips, bleeps, and bloops that the group has keyed up here would make Shields and Yarnell proud.
In fact, Enthusiasm exerts little of her namesake, preferring instead to enunciate her words as close to that of a robot as she can. And I’m not talking about one of those funky soul robots, either. This is the kind of automation that Sears and Roebuck would thrill over. “I’m not nosy, I’m just con-cerned / People are hur-ting, they’ve-all-been-burned / Be-ing a-lone is no-way to-be / Don’t wor-ry at-all, just leave-it to-me” states Liz in “Harebrained Scheme” (“singing” would be the wrong word to describe what Enthusiasm does here, as it clearly isn’t that). Visions of kitchens of the future and Jetsons-like automated households start entering your mind as the plasticity of the groove forces itself upon you. Cold as ice, as Lou Gramm would say.
Don’t like that? Well then insert another quarter into this automat of music and choose from such minimalist ditties as “Science Genius Girl” (“When I clone the human being / It will want to hold my hand / When I clone the human being / It will be a member of my band”), or “Get Ready 2 Rokk” in which Enthusiasm loses all of her vocal “skills” and does the best impression of parrot-speak that I have ever heard from a human. And just to make sure you know these guys are really up on their pop culture coolness, you can also thrill to the hum of “Tracey Gold” (“Tracey Gold, where have you gone girl? / Tracey Gold, where in the world? / Tracey Gold, what have you done, girl? / Tracey Gold, my heart’s in a whirl over yeaw / My heart’s in a swirl over yeaw / Tracey Gold, my brain’s in a twirl over yeaw”). The attempt at Air-like hipness is just as weak as everything else. “Kelly Watch the Stars” this is not.
Freezepop Forever is the kind of album an 11-year-old could find really cool, much like I did with Styx’s Kilroy Was Here when I was that age. The rest of the listening public may find it hard to get through even once, so sterile and simple is this music. The thin beats are not dance-worthy, the vocals are enough to make you scream out of despair, and the synth melodies are not unlike those that you get when you simply hit that “demonstration song” key on that Casio of your kid brother’s that I mentioned earlier. If the songs alone don’t make you snap, perhaps the back cover photo on the disc that features the trio looking all smug in throwaway kiddie sunglasses from the ‘80s will. Freezepop Forever should last as long as their namesake on a hot day.
// Notes from the Road
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