After many years of plastic Darkwave and alternative, electronic-type attempts, at last we have something with some substance. Drawing what sound like influences from Bauhaus to Joy Division, New Order and Depeche Mode, with a dash of added 21st century production, “Next Time I’ll Know” is one of the best things in the genre, I have heard all year.
Track-to-track this EP is classic in its own sense, making its new wave influences clear. Some artists do indeed fall prey to their influences, while others are able to blend them into a unique sound. Matt Byron does just that; he is a talented player whose music is more textured, layered, sophisticated and fresh than most of the influences, critics may want to nail him to.
Matt Byron could very easily have gotten lost in the massive wave of electronic bands that have made their way into our ears. But he has not ridden the wave into that hip hop-inflected indie dance pop that is either catchy or grating. Fortunately Byron is unique in a sea of many interesting but not necessarily long lasting bands. “Next Time I’ll Know” is a rather breathtaking EP filled with rough-around-the-edges pop tracks hidden under electronic beats and at times an industrial roughness that makes you think you are hearing something more than just electronic.
Right out of the gate “Sleep & Dream Of Monsters” comes roaring out of the speakers, with a spit-polished syncopated bass and spooky atmosphere. We then go right into the club-orientated “Tylenol & Gasoline” that seems to want to be some sort of radio hit. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. It just sort of goes through the motions, which is decent enough, but as one 80’s commercial pondered; “Where’s the beef?” The answer is “Back To The Bottom”, a soul-inflected track that reminds the listener why Matt Byron may be great.
All the elements are there, popping, clicking and banging. Now we’re talking. Byron’s ethereal voice floats above, in-between and around the excellent soundscape – almost avoiding the central melodic theme. This is 21st century pop music at its finest, mixed together with the classic 80’s organic sound; catchy, yet still interesting and new to the ears!
“I Can’t Wait” is dark and emotional with a playful synth-line that soars above the eeriness. It brings back that peculiar contrasting quirkiness that the 80’s new wave movement delivered in spades. You’ll be cranking this and blowing the speakers in your Camry for sure.
On “Next Time I’ll Know”, Matt Byron has proven his got the sound and the songs. It hits hard right away and the whole thing is great. It’s pretty much exactly what I was hoping for!
Matt Byron’s debut solo EP is out on Montreal-based Mu-Box Records; available at all major streaming music sites and online music retailers now.