Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Roosevelt | Roosevelt



The implementation of grinding synths, warm guitars, and tinny 808s in high-gloss 21st century tracks has become a practice among most synthpop artists, arguably popularized by Daft Punk and Pharrell on 2013's disco-leaning "Get Lucky." It seems, however, we have reached a point in time during which being '80s-inspired is no longer enough – and the term "'80s-inspired" is almost a given in reference to modern day synthpop. In today's musical climate, pop artists must now masquerade themselves as true fixtures of three decades past for distinction.

Last summer, Shura moved to create an synthpop album on par with era-appropriate Janet Jackson and Madonna. Even earlier in the year, St. Lucia delivered an upbeat collection of tracks that were breezy, yet not enough to shake its humid '80s undertones. Into these artists' ranks, enter German singer, songwriter, and producer Roosevelt. His self-titled debut album crossbreeds Daryl Hall and John Oates with Duran Duran, then spikes the product with subtle tropical undertones and four-on-the-floor disco influences. It's an unexpected product from a man whose musical origins can be found as a headlining DJ in a Cologne nightclub, but it's a welcomed one nonetheless.

Roosevelt is warm ball of guitar lines, tireless drumbeats, and slurred, reverberated vocal work – all coated in a fuzzy, analog-quality filter, giving it an optimal impression of authenticity. Each track stands melodically independent, but collectively, they melt together over the same mood board and nearly identical sonic approaches. The album, then, is a fluid body of work that finds a fresh hook every four minutes to keep from running idle. The appeal is delivered sometimes via infectious synth loops ("Moving On," "Fever"), but most often through the combination of those synth loops, guitar riffs, and simple yet effective vocal melody lines ("Wait Up," "Belong," "Colours").

Straying from the newest trend that has sustained the album as a worthwhile format in a world of Top 40 and streaming convenience, Roosevelt doesn't find purpose in making a grandiose statement on society at large or a frank revelation of personal distress. Rather, he allows listeners to escape reality by taking pop music back to its roots: frivolous, funky, and feel-good. He exhibits an admirable, refreshing brand of lightheartedness, harking back to the days when pop music could be carefree without resorting to recklessness. And perhaps that is what truly sets this album apart.

Roosevelt is available now under City Slang Records.

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