Orphan is a great stab of the nightlife of the past.
When you think of someone covering Abba, you might think the obvious choice might be “Dancing Queen”. Or perhaps “Knowing Me, Knowing You”. A lesser known choice, as it turns out for Brooklyn’s Monika Heidemann, is “The Visitors”, an early ‘80s song about political dissidents in the Soviet Union. The fourth and final song on her debut EP, Orphan, is infused with an ‘80s dance pop sensibility, rendering the song ominous and foreboding, as much as it is poppy. It turns out that “The Visitors” is the very best thing going for Orphan, which shows the former member of Xylos doing her best impression of Casio rock. All the songs here could almost pass for Gary Numan in his prime to a certain extent, and while that might be an agreeable concoction for some, there’s an overarching sense of the familiar to this material -- you all heard this 30 years ago. Still, Orphan shows that Heidemann is a promising talent, as she has a voice that can go from a low croon to a mid-range squeal.
“Swords”, the first song on the collection, is minimal at best, with new wavy synths ponging behind Heidemann’s vocals, abetted with a simplistic drum machine beat. “Well Well”, which follows, does offer a catchy keyboard melody, but otherwise, it does seem rather ordinary. “Another Life” comes closest to matching the ecstatic high of the cover of “The Visitor” with a windshield-wiper beat and keyboards that render the song closer to modern day electronica than the previous material. When it’s all said and done, the Orphan EP does offer a good time, and those who love ‘80s pop might find much to like about it. It’s just a touch on the minimal side, belying its independent origins, so it’d be interesting to see what Heidemann could do with a proper studio and recording budget. Still, Orphan is a great stab of the nightlife of the past, and if you just can’t get enough of that sound, you’ll have a fair bit to gobble up here.