Electronic music has never done anything but change. What began in the ’70s as a sort of novelty has now become a pervasive force with scores of subcultures, styles, and the ability to infiltrate most any musical genre. Daft Punk released their carefully crafted (and divisive) record last year, and now The Crystal Method, another welterweight duo from the nineties, is taking their turn to re-image themselves in this new and incredibly diverse landscape of electronica with their recent, self-titled release.
Aptly named “Emulator”, the first track on The Crystal Method’s new album is an undeniable throwback to their Vegas days, erecting simmering sonic slides and bumps around spoken vocal samples that build to towering grooves. The true trademark of TCM comes from their vast spectrum of synth textures and percussion. Like a circus with a dozen different acts being performed at once, there is always some new sound, some new melody or pattern to turn your ear to pay attention to. On track six, “Jupiter Shift”, it becomes almost a game trying to follow any one melody or texture as a dozen others crash, rumble, shriek, and buzz all around. It would be exhausting were it not for Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland’s ability to inject vitality and energy into most everything they craft.
And it’s that energy- that visceral how-do-you-like-me-now attitude balanced with slow, fresh moments of sonic space that makes this album special. A surge of adrenaline only lasts for a few moments before the crash, and likewise Jordan and Kirkland have smartly paced this album to not be completely exhausting to listen to. That being said, only thumping these tracks through a pair of headphones, alone, is a lot like hammering a nail with the blunt end of a knife, that’s not what the tool is for and you are going to hurt yourself. Truly, this album belongs in a place where just as much energy can be expended as what it was constructed with. And that place is a dance floor.
There’s a powerful sort of magic in the bright memories from childhood, and Thumpers are well aware of it. Friends since the age of 11, the musical duo seem to have harnessed their rose-colored past and crafted something full of smiley, giddy energy in their debit album Galore.
The first track, “Marvel,” acts as a thematic overture for the rest of the album; creative and powerful drum beats, hazy vocals, and synth textures that add fullness to the band’s sound. Even its very first lyric, “stay young”, is an idea this whole album appears to be focused on- almost obsessed with, actually. Throughout Galore the lyrics, “I wish you were sixteen,” “bed jumping, him and her are full of passions tonight,” “we’re tired but ripe,” and, “two beating hearts,” makes the impression Thumpers is aching for you to make your sunny summer memories, which is funny since this album is being released in the middle of February.
Though this is their debut as Thumpers, Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr. are not new to indie music. Collectively they have been a part of the bands Antihero, Pull Tiger Tail, Noah and the Whale, and Friendly Fires. Their experience certainly shows. Galore is full of enough energy to send it bouncing off every wall in the room, but is seems to be done purposely. The sound of each track is similar, but never feels overworked or tired. Through their experience, Pepperell and Hamson have learned control over the atmosphere of each track and the atmosphere of the album as a whole.
Making music while doing a thousand-yard-stare into the past is not new. What’s special about Thumpers is they have managed to craft something without any eye roll-inducing cliché that usually comes with nostalgia. Galore is creative and lively, and most importantly, it’s just fun.