It’s so easy to slip away from humanity with the ear buds firmly in ears.
The hustle and annoyance of the morning commute is reduced to a murky din with the simple click and press of the trusty iPod Classic (because I kick it old school, forever and ever). Eyes shut, I am awash in soundscapes. My security blanket, my armor against that familiar feeling of not quite belonging in the herd. But there’s a chink in the whole mess:
I am not the only one who feels like the Other.
Vancouver-based duo Data Romance have set out on their debut LP Other on an exploration of the human experiences of belonging and disengaging, whether intentional or not. From the soaring heartbreak of opener “Caves”, the equally enchanting and haunting vocals of Amy Kirkpatrick spill over the listener, echoing the battered beats of metaphorical muscle beneath the ribcage.
The ways we strive for connection, the ways we disconnect and reconnect, play out across the album. “The pills in the jars aren’t doing enough,” Kirkpatrick laments in the loving embrace of “Cargo” and I wince, glaring at my purse knowingly. But all is not sadness and sorrow; “Can’t Keep Your Mind Off” is subtly sassy in its state of enthralled desire, sashaying with an electro-tango vibe. Frenetic tune “Guard” similarly beckons the listener forth with a promise of evolution between the lines. There is balance here, and it is comfortable.
Analysis of Data Romance demands a close examination of the instrumental elements of the album and here, the band shines as brightly. Ajay Bhattacharyya’s precision at crafting a home for Kirkpatrick’s heavenly harmonies speaks to songwriting wisdom beyond the band’s young years. Each track lives and breathes in its own space, rising and falling as if stepping away from the proverbial mic and charging it anew in search of spotlight. Sinister at turns, maturely playful at others, it is its own voice and it complements perfectly. Of particular note: the eloquent slow swell of “She’s Been High” and the peaks and valleys of “Only A Few” that evoke Ghosts-era Nine Inch Nails.
On Other, Data Romance have crafted an intriguing collection of poetic beings, born of darkness and light. A fascinating exploration of the envelopes electronic music is capable of pushing, it is everything a debut LP should be.
Sink beneath the ethereal covers and cast aside the Other. Be one of us, instead.
Highlights: “Caves”; “Cargo”; “She’s Been High”
Final Grade: A