The Magnetic Fields are known for catchy electronic indie pop, characterized by synthesizers and feedback. Advance Base, on the other hand, is more known for calm, cozy pop that could be better described as a lo-fi, musical hug. On their new EP, Tomorrow's Homes Today, Advance Base take the steely sound of the Magnetic Fields and mellows it down, resulting in a pleasant, comfortable collection of covers that are unique yet genuine to their predecessors.
When it was first released in 1992, The House of Tomorrow was met with positive reception. This was a primarily solo effort by frontman Stephin Merritt, using drum machines and layered keyboards and ended with a lovely, catchy pop record. On Tomorrow’s Homes Today, Advance Base take the original and put their own, sleepy spin on it. The most notable aspect of the EP is how similar Owen Ashworth sounds to Stephin Merritt, yet Ashworth's monotone sets apart from Merritt's deeper, echoing voice. Ashworth's voice sounds at times very dull and even a little boring. Rather than producing a fuzzy, nap-time musical theme, their choice of soft musical backing paired with Ashworth's voice creates a colorful yet subdued sound.
The original Magnetic Fields EP is trademarked by the repetition used in both the vocals and the instrumentation, and this theme has remained in the covers. All of the tracks sound essentially the same, with similar rhythmic patterns and song structures fine-tuned with in their own style, while maintaining the creative integrity of the originals. "Young and Insane" is still soulfully fuzzy, while still sounding poppy, and “Technical (You’re So)” maintains the same hook that made the original so contagious. “Alien Being” stands out as the most indie pop track on both albums. Briefly stepping away from the lo-fi fuzz, while “Love Goes Home To Paris In The Spring,” with its subtle xylophone, sounds like a lullaby. As the EP closes down with “Either You Don’t Love Me or I Don’t Love You,” it ties each previous song and brings them to a satisfying end. The result is likable, and sure to appeal to lovers of the original songs, especially given their similarities in both vocals and structure.
But the instrumentation on Tomorrow's Homes Today is much more gentle than the synthesizer pop found on The House of Tomorrow, which says a lot, since the original could hardly be described as energetic. On the whole, Ashworth’s cover is an enjoyable listen, though it almost seems unnecessary when one realizes how similar the two EPs are to each other. Purists will find it lovely, but listeners looking for a true reimagination of the original may find it comes up short.
1. Young and Insane
2. Technical (You're So)
3. Alien Being
4. Love Goes Home To Paris In The Spring
5. Either You Don't Love Me or I Don't Love You