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Posted on April 29th, 2013 (3:45 pm) by Ben Schenkel

In many ways, the 1980s were a golden age for pop music. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of wrong decisions, but plenty of great acts rose to stand tall above the primordial electropop/new wave soup. Then, the ‘90s happened, and so far so good, a few more wrong decisions, but at least people still listened to music. But then, the 2000’s happened and pop music was lost behind a myriad of boy bands and girls in underwear wielding snakes, oh yeah, and Creed. “We’ll never dig our way out of this,” we said. “At least we still have Hip Hop, oh no, here comes Soulja Boy...” Thankfully, in whatever you call this decade, pop has improved immensely, but as always there are those who still long for the golden years. Until electropop dies, the musical style of the '80s in all of its glory will always be the bearer of nostalgic pop bliss, and Los Angeles electropop duo Touché’s debut album It’s Fate is here May 1st to proclaim it, or at least to try really hard.

Touché consists of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Alex Lilly (from the projects, Obi Best and The Living Sisters) with vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Bram Inscore who currently plays and tours with Twin Shadow. According to Touché's bio, the artists were friends in high school who found themselves in L.A. for separate reasons and decided to jump on the opportunity to make an album. The result is a poppy, heavily-produced LP which touches all the bases, but comes across as hollow and lacks any sense of solid songwriting or musicality. The record sounds okay to listen and dance to, but only if you’re not really listening.

The album opens relatively strongly with “I’m a Man Not a Machine,” an upbeat ‘80s style dance tune with an admittedly catchy melody. The track displays plenty of well-produced bouncy percussion that makes you want to dance all weird like in the music video, not a bad start at all. The next track, “Bad Dreams,” isn’t terrible either. It features another catchy pop melody over another bouncy rhythm. A bit of a "Thriller" vibe in mood and lyric is discernible and fits well in an ‘80s style dance number. We wanted to say we like this track, but then we heard this stripped-down version and come on guys! Maybe it’s just a personal preference thing, but the live version is honest and musical while the album version stinks of bad synth decisions and hides behind the overly glossy production.

The third track, “Everything He Wants,” is the last okay track before the album really starts to get obnoxious. It features some interesting ideas like some part layering reminiscent of the build from a beat track. There’s also an ‘80s robotic theme that almost seems like a joke, but is admittedly catchy and amusing. The rest of the album is mostly filler. After listening to the album several times, I can’t pick out a single song by memory. They all blend together like a bad trip of whirling choppy synth and forgettable melody. The track “Big Fan” is a good representative because although it sounds interesting, it very evidently rides on its production value with no actual songwriting to back itself up. The instrumental solos and vocal melody are only listenable because the producers picked interesting sounds; the musical substance is nearly non-existent. Track nine, “Lock and Key” is straight up annoying and literally tries nothing new. Finally, the closing track, “Homing,” displays a bit of virtue with some stripped-down musical elements that’s actually soothing to listen to. If the rest of the album resembled this more, maybe listeners wouldn’t be so burned out by the eleventh track, but unfortunately it wasn’t.

Hipster ‘80s revival sound salad is a poor excuse for dream pop, and just because you have a collection of vintage synths doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. It’s Fate displays some value for those who just want to dance and barely listen, but a lack of musical merit leaves the LP sounding hollow and lame.

Track List:
1. I'm a Man Not a Machine
2. Bad Dreams
3. Everything He Wants
4. Pray For Us
5. Snow White
6. Big Fan
7. Men Change
8. Shhh It's Quiet Time
9. Lock and Key
10. Love Is A Trap
11. Homing

Touché: It's Fate
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

51 / 100
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