Although Allegories‘ second album, Endless, is influenced by 1980s synthpop, it’s hardly an exercise in nostalgia. The record takes some sonic cues from the swirly, heady sounds of Depeche Mode, Japan, and Duran Duran, but Endless is thoroughly original and fresh-sounding. One that plunges its listeners into a thick, warm, enveloping world of swoony vocals, gorgeous, sweeping soundscapes, and captivating romanticism. The Canadian duo create a complex and winning work that finds humanity amongst the rolling waves of synthesizers, drum machines, and electronic instruments.
Released 14 years after the band’s first record, Endless was a long-gestating process, with Allegories working on material for the set since 2014. In an interview with Jenna Melason for Canadian Beats, the duo revealed the genesis of Endless’ process, explaining, “We started recording the album in 2014, winnowing down some 35 song ideas into nine songs.” As evidenced by the sprawl of the initial tracklist, Allegories had “had no clear final destination in mind”, citing stylistic overtures to contemporary classical music as well as hip-hop. The nine-track Endless is a tight, concise collection that features some genuinely beautiful music. Even if the record’s conception started with a broad swath of ideas, Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell successfully narrowed their sounds, ideas, and ambitions into a succinct album.
Fourteen years is a long time to wait, but the Endless‘ songs don’t sound like the products of arduous toil. There’s classy ease to the music, but there’s also a sense of joy and fun. Endless opens with winding, fuzzy synths that sound like static paired with rubbery bass and a ticking synth. The moving vocals convey a yearning and want. It’s the kind of tight, euphoric dance number that sends its listeners into a close-eyed bliss.
Though synthpop dominates Endless, there are also moments of dance, disco, and new wave. There are hints and echoes of Giorgio Moroder and Patrick Cowley, with the duo finding innovative ways of playing with studio effects and technology. Muted funk finds its way into the dancier tracks. and buzzy synths hum., but there’s also a gorgeous paean to 1990s house with the canny “Sentimental Hogwash”. It’s a brilliant track paying homage to the Chicago-born genre of dance music. Pointy synths stab as throbbing beat pulses; even samples of wailing vocals flow in the back. Most importantly, “Sentimental Hogwash” captures the urgency of early house music.
Yes, “Sentimental Hogwash” is a highlight, but all nine tracks feel glorious. The single “Always True” is another standout song. Set amongst dreamy orchestral synths that drone ominously, the bouncy beat belies the grandeur of the lush instrumentation. “Funny Way” is another excellent cut on the record that captures an elegant, elegiac epic note that will bring a mournful Peter Gabriel to mind.
Though the sounds of Endless find their way to 1980s synthpop, recalling some of the decade’s greatest musicians, Allegories succeed in creating a synthpop record in 2022 that references these notes without being beholden to them. The music on Endless is thoroughly original and unique. It at once looks to the past but is innovative. Endless does a wonderful job of striking the melancholic and plaintive moods of great synthpop without sounding morose or dour. Instead, a silky urgency and vitality shimmer alongside the glossy beats. Endless should be required listening for devotees of excellent dance music.