Chrome Sparks - Chrome Sparks
It's somewhat hard to believe that this is the debut LP from Chrome Sparks. This self titled record goes on the deep dive of synthpop. The albums opener "rocket" sets the tone with this massively big sounds signalling things to come and making you think this record is going to be far closer to S U R V I V E than it is to Chromeo. The synths create more atmosphere than they do hard dance tunes, creating this really interesting push pull between an EDM record and something more concerned with soundscape and vibe. "Still Think" is an early standout building and building into this massive track full of variety and warmth. Chrome Sparks uses an almost vinyl effect on his synths to give them a really warm vibe instead of something so inherently techno in nature. You don't feel like you are listening to an electronic album at times because you get lost in all of it, the focus isn't on that aspect, it's on something much grander. The thing is, Chrome Sparks is not reinventing the wheel here. The music is really great, but it's not all that new feeling. This is pretty typical electronic stuff which makes it's impact feel a little less eventful. With someone like Mura Masa you hear things you've never heard before, and new ways of understanding pop and electronic, but with Chrome Sparks it all feels like a place you've been before. There are a few times where it feels modern and like a fresh take like on "O My Perfection" but those moments are not the norm. When Chrome Sparks shoots for the middle is when He stumbles the most, it is the tracks that are different and exciting that really shine here.
"Wings" beings normal enough but then really takes flight once the synthy chimes come in. Yet it still never takes you over a cliff and lets everything fall loose. Their is a restraint to this album that holds it back from being big and bold. The synths often fall into the hold or elevator music at times, just edgy enough to not be heard while you're on hold with Verizon, but not exciting enough to want to hear again and again. This album has potential and at times can feel quite nice but never gives you that real connected feeling. A lot of synth based music can keep you at arms length and it takes a real master to really get them to speak loudly. The album ends on a total whimper with "To Eternity" a gentle float down an almost vaporwave river. The record just promises a whole lot more than it actually delivers. The neon isn't bright enough, the statements bold enough or the ideas complex enough for this album to truly cross over into that great category. It is however rather nice at times and maybe that's enough, but not really.
6.2 out of 10