Though it might not be setting a blaze of originality, Dystopia the new album from Swedish synth pop band Mechatronic, is a rather charming and enjoyable encounter. It makes no demands and does not really stretch senses and imagination but the twelve- track release does offer a contagious embrace to make a very satisfying forty five minutes or so in its company.
Formed in 2002, Mechatronic consists of Wilhelm Äretun (vocals/programming) and Emma Hortlund (lyrics/synthesizers). Already under their belt the Uppsala duo has a couple of well-received albums in the shape of Promises From the Past and Dreams, of 2003 and 2012 respectively. Uniting synth and future pop into a brew which is as nostalgic as it is fresh, the band is now poised to work on feet and imagination, not forgetting attention, with the Space Race Records released Dystopia.
The album swiftly embraces ears and thoughts with opener Falling Apart, its atmospheric coaxing offering a chilled John Foxx enticing and very early Ministry like presence. The plain yet alluring vocals of Äretun add another enticing element to the start of the song, his tones flourishing further with the subsequent harmonies and energy the singer infuses into his delivery. With the synths shimmering vivaciously as they radiate infectiousness, the track leads the listener into a minimalistic but seriously catchy proposition which does not startle but certainly lights up a keen appetite for it and the album.
The strong start is easily surpassed by the following pair of Endless Search for Something and Don’t Bother to Knock. The first of the two songs strides with contagious manner and enterprise, electronic hooks and tantalising melodies enslaving the imagination whilst the vocals and their unfussy lyrics easily induce participation from its recipient. An enticing eighties breath again washes ears with elements of bands like Blancmange and Depeche Mode spicing up the temptation impressively laid down, an open familiarity enveloped with Mechatronic’s own invention to provide a riveting treat. Its successor brings a darker and more intensive weave of sound which comes wrapped in an elegant ambience of evocative melodies which swarm tenderly and provocatively over the senses. Once again, as with all tracks upon Dystopia, there is infectiousness to the song which makes a physical and emotional engagement with its magnetic persuasion very simple.
The title track comes next with an industrial seeded chill to its intriguing almost sinister aural narrative. This of course comes with another healthy dose of addictive hooks and sonic tempting which just adds to the fascinating texture and tapestry of the song. It is a potent mix of shadows and light, though for personal tastes it does not explore its darkest elements as deeply as wished, preferring to stay within the energetic pop invention of the band. It is nevertheless another twist in the presence of the release, as is Niagara, a flowing electronic waltz smothering ears is a warm and rapturous seduction. It is not the quickest persuasion on the album but turns out to be one of the most lingering and ultimately enthralling with thoughts and emotions.
Trapped in a Nightmare is another encounter to walk rich shadows musically and lyrically, a tempestuous atmosphere challenging the melodic flames glowing beneath. The song is a captivating proposal but lacks the spark and virulence of earlier songs. It still brings something inviting to the album though before the drama and intrigue of Sinister expands across the senses, its aspects living up to its name. There is a cinematic quality to the track, closing eyes bringing visions of black and white scenery around lone and lonely figures walking empty streets emotionally and physically, before a dead world erupts around them.
Across the sultry ambience and intimate emotions of Beyond the Silence and the exotically charming Broken Promises, band and album ignite a fresh wave of pleasure. The first is a sweeping seducing of picturesque melodies and suggestive sonic hues whilst the second dances with masterful simplicity and ridiculously captivating hooks. It is an outstanding romp which like the album is not trying to reinvent the scene but just give it a refreshing and joyful injection of fun. The same can be said of the next up Vicious Words, though despite being an accomplished and potently satisfying companion, it leaves no lasting impression unlike its persistent predecessor.
The album is completed by the electro pop flirtation of This Moment, a decent enough ear appeasing suasion, and the dystopian landscape of the predominantly instrumental Dying Together Isn’t Going to Solve Anything. Without setting fires, both make a fine ends to an impressively engaging proposition. Dystopia is not without niggles, the over familiarity of some songs to supposed influences and between themselves the strongest question to cast over it, but Mechatronic tenaciously succeed with the self-same songs through their irrepressible contagion and melodic invention. It makes for an easy going and rewarding encounter which will successfully light up any day.