“Ten Makes A Face” – ‘When Saints Go Machine’
It feels like I’ve just come back to Highly Evolved after a nice, long holiday. And, as a matter-of-fact, I have. Last week’s ‘exam-week’ was a ball, and with the GAT and George Clooney, we had an absolute blast. I’d like to pass-on to the Australian-Victorian readers that a surprising 7-10% of essay/exam papers managed to include Clooney in their argument, somewhere [and how, you ask, do I know such details? Ask the info-guru, Michael Hodder - it's the old, "a-friend-of-a-friend-of-mine" scenario, I imagine]. In the midst of bees and possessions, cheers to those people. And for the other 93-90% of Australian-Victorian readers who participated in the awful-gathering, and who shunned the messiah-returneth, George Clooney, shame on you:
I managed to draw a caricature of the man, for God’s sake – it might have cost me half-an-hour, but damn, peoples, let’s take this prank seriously!
“Resistance is futile!”
As the Borg might say…
… Distracted, much: you came here for the music, and you’re wasting that precious life-force of yours called existence, life and soul. I know I’m just reiterating what I’ve said for the past few weeks in my reviews, and I’m sure my counterpart would agree, that the music forefront has died completely. I was just scrolling through the endless albums, and the extent some artists will go to for coverage: nudity, obscenity, foul-language and the likes.
“… And God was happy.”
… But the music sucked. I’ve been, to some extent, on a miniature quest myself, looking for some worthwhile psychedelica, although the search is fruitlessly painful. And in the meanwhile, I’ve noticed an influx of pop, folk, alternative and techno. It’s not that I have much of a problem with that, it’s just when they’re all together, it’s a bloody pain in the ass. My “NOT_WORTH_IT” folder for reviews is mounting on 4-gig. And in amongst the wreckage, this week, I came across a polished piece of metal, the equivalent of a fifty-year-old bottle of Brandy, the golden-cog in the machine. I’ve decided to limit my Friday-Reviews to a single album, since Michael Hodder and I agreed to do some Classic Album reviews, etc [which will be underway in the weeks to come, I suspect]…
“Ten Makes A Face” has some of the best contemporary 80′s-reminiscent synth I’ve personally seen to date. Although I’ve been ‘criticised’ by my partner for utilising the information provided on www.last.fm, I still find them worthy enough to trust, even at the risk of my own foolishness. Some obscure bands are quite difficult to find openly on the net, otherwise. Hailing for Copenhagen, Denmark, these guys define the epitome of European pop. It’s like a Danish version of ‘Passion Pit’, with a twist of lemon, and a hint of sugar. ‘When Saints Go Machine’ is a four-piece ensemble at the centre of Scandinavian pop-culture, and I’ll stake my reputation on the line: I can see why. Formed back in ’07, these ‘youngin’s’ should be on their way to success…
A ten-track album, “Ten Makes A Face” has some exceptionally well-strung music. Great lyrics, ‘Scissor Sisters’/'Passion Pit’ vocals at the highs, different otherwise; some infectious rhythm, off-tune synth and a barrel of other monkeys sure to entertain. From start to finish, it’s one of the rare, unified albums that manages to pull off - song after song - hit after hit. I really do mean it, guys, “Ten Makes A Face” is the kind of album that’s sure to attract some attention in the not-too-distant future. If you’ve been following ‘Passion Pit’, recently, they’ve surged out onto the Australian music forefront more than just quickly; think of some exploding adjectives, like exploded.
To be honest, I only just came across “Ten Makes a Face” last night, and I fell in love with it. No joke, there was wine, there was laughs, there was a click, a moonlight serenade here, some sexy-dancing there. And at a 35-min listen, you’ll be begging on your hands a knees for more. Length-wise, it’s the only real criticism – it’s too short!
But I’ll quote from my all-time favourite British comedy, “Red Dwarf”
“… ['When Saints Go Machine'] make love like a Japanese-meal; small portions, but so many courses…”
And, if this were a short review, which I doubt it is, that would just about sum it all up there. Wrong, peoples. I’m going to start from the top and work my way down, as is appropriate for such a situation. “Pinned” opens with the lyrics “… We draw diamond rings…” in the absence of sound. The resonating vocals work so effectively, that they could almost be the song in its entirety. There are so many layers working so fantastically well. But it all just get’s better. You know you’ve found a good song when you just can’t stop moving to the beat: at the forty-second mark, the beat explodes into your ears. You’ve been kept on edge for just enough time, that the surprise of synthetic percussion is like a delightful slap-in-the-face!
“… Johnny’s out of his mind, he smashed his radio…” – “Pinned”
I absolutely love it, instant classic qualities, elegant simplicity – it’s why I listen to music, and it’s why I got into the non-mainstream reviewing system. An excellent pick for the opener, it’s got that quiet intro, that blaring beat that just can’t help but attract you, like bees to honey, you’ll be stuck. This is definitely the song you’ll be playing over and over again…
“Fail Forever”, featured as ‘When Saints Go Machine’s’ single prior to the release of this full-length feature, along with “New Elvis”, flows on marvellously from “Pinned”, and it replaces that infectious beat with looped/elec.-violin. I’ve only reviewed a handful of looped-track albums, albums that use musical recordings spanning only a few seconds, and repeat them over and over to make a song. You’ve all heard it, big in techno, trance and a handful of electronica bands. It’s difficult to find music that utilises loops, that’s worth listening to, or even reviewing, because after a while, that repetitiveness really wears off on you, and the song/s lose their spark. Some bands make an exception, for the simple reason, they include lyrics, vocals, or multiple loops to create layers that keep the listener enticed. If electronic music has a failing, it’s loops, some bands manage to overcome the boundary, others fail miserably…
‘When Saints Go Machine’ have audible lyrics, and shifting vocals that dumb-down that predictability. “New Elvis”, the third track, has that repetitive beat, and elec. guitar, but it works so well because the vocals are so amazingly sung. They bounce about, they echo, they’re loud and they’re soft. “You Or The Gang” works in almost the same way…
“… Turn your lights out…” – “You Or The Gang”
“Spitting Image” brings back that thick, oozing beat from “Pinned”, and finally we come across some ‘Scissor Sisters’/'Passion Pit’ vocals on the highs. The distortion adds, but overall, it doesn’t quite beat the opener. “Pick Up Your Tears And Run” has some interesting vocals that contrast a majority of the album, with varying “Oh’s”, layered on top of each other, reminiscent more of an instrument rather than a human voice. The song shifts halfway, and a metallic beat comes in with some wavy synth. A contrasting track in comparison with the album, with conflicting elements in between; definitely worth a listen.
What I want to highlight, what I want to stress, is the last track, most importantly – none of this six-minute stuff, no. A short, quick-to-the-point 2-minute thriller. It’s got all the workings of all the other songs, and makes for an interesting ending. Although it’s a little open for me, it hasn’t got the fundamentals of an end-track that I’ve heard before, it doesn’t build, it just has layers that go until the end, and finishes abruptly. It’s notable because of this, but it’s not particularly lovable. It’s like…
“… So, are you going to invite me in for coffee?” The Enantiomorphic God asks hopefully, leaning forward.
“… Uh… Um… I’m out of coffee,” When Saints Go Machine ends, shutting the door in The Enantiomorphic God’s face.
“FAIL!” shouts a loud, intrusive voice from above.
“Shut up, conscience,’ The Enantiomorphic God whispers…
All in all, it’s probably the best album I’ve heard in two-weeks, and I’ve only been listening for a few days. It’s easy to get into, and easy to leave, easy to come back, and at the same time, difficult to forget. I recommend, boy do I recommend. If you’ve been musically deprived for near to a month, ‘When Saints Go Machine’ is like a tiny oasis in the desert. A generous four-stars from me, catchy, memorable.
The Enantiomorphic God