Nostalgia’s been a driving force in my life in 2016. Between the occasional review here at B.G.M., I’m working on a memoir. In it, I explain grown-up music to my young daughter by walking her through my personal journey of musical discovery. It’s been revelatory, cathartic, fun, and occasionally painful to relive certain memories.
And it’s not just me! Stranger Things has wowed us with its deft homage to 80s music, literature, and film. Elsewhere, Carly Rae Jepsen keeps proving she’s one of the top songwriters of her generation by re-inventing ‘80s pop music for the 21st century. And bands like Beach Slang, Bleached, and Modern Baseball continue to mine ‘80s and ‘90s indie rock to create compelling music.
Suffice to say, nostalgia’s powerful, and Foretaste knows it.
This French electro-pop duo cobbles from a host of heavy-hitting influences like Air, Gary Numan, Bauhaus, and The Cure to create a 10-song record. Space Echoes brings to mind fantastic 80s movie soundtracksand sounds like an album Trent Reznor would make with Shirley Manson if they were John Carpenter disciples.
Released on BOREDOMproduct in September, Space Echoes is gloomy, gothic, dreary, and emo in all the right ways. Lover XX and Lover XY meld banks of synths with ample dexterity and aplomb while crooning lovelorn lyrics from deepest outer space. This isn’t two hacks playing with presets on new keyboards purchased on credit from Guitar Center. This is a fully developed record created by artists with a distinct point of view.
Melody lines dance with counterpoint phrases. The bass and drums are paragons of precision. Rich synth pads deliver plenty of eerie atmosphere. Standout tracks like “First Symptoms,” “One by One,” “Every Shadow,” and “Higher” bubble with layers upon layers of sounds intricately woven together.
This is good music.
But it’s not great music. What makes nostalgia powerful is how it allows us to reflect back on a certain time in our lives. It allows us to see how that scenario impacted our current world, for good or for ill. On Space Echoes, Foretaste merely holds up a sign saying “We Like ‘80s Music!,” but never gives us room to access our own memories using its songs. By connecting so firmly with a specific aesthetic from the past, the band neglects to bring those sounds into the present.
Basically, Space Echoes is a pastiche.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s a really good pastiche, but it’s still a pastiche. For everything I loved about this album – the fantastic synth work, the atmosphere cultivated, the sensation these two really like making music together – it just feels stuck in the past and too on the nose as an ‘80s artifact for me.
However, I have no problem with bands reaching into the past for inspiration. They just need to make sure they do so with their eyes looking to the future.
Recommended for: Movie Producers looking for a band to create the soundtrack for the reboot of Labyrinth or Gremlins, or just anyone who enjoys vintage goth-pop made on synthesizers.