Great production skills but lacks serious hit potential.
Nine Seconds debut album “Poladroids” was somewhat torn between pure synthpop songs and songs of more industrial EBM character. Sound and production, however, was of the highest class and promised well for the future release. Prior to the second full-length album was the big issue of the album would go in the synthpop or the EBM direction?
My hopes that the most bleeps’n’bloopsy synthpop would have been peeled away materialized in fact altogether. Nine Seconds has chosen to invest in its darker and more serious side, which seems logical since the singer Oliver Spring (Sleepwalk/tEaR!dOwN/Nerve Conflict) has that hard and typical industrial voice. The fact that they also have added a cover of Front 242‘s “No Shuffle” clearly points out the choosen direction. On the debut album they instead had a cover of Trans-X‘s old catchy pop tune “Living on Video,” for comparison. Unfortunately “No Shuffle” sounds like something Front 242 themselves have updated, Nine Seconds haven’t tried to bring anything new out of it, they’ve just revamped the sound a bit.
Looking at the big picture, it feels like Nine Seconds have now found their sound and niche. It is basically a melodic EBM with clear elements of synthpop and sometimes even a little bit of techno. The soundstage is clean and undistorted, warm character with fat analog sound, but not so minimalistic. The many layers of electronic sounds treated with lots of effects creates at times larger atmospheric soundscapes. Sometimes I feel that there is too much pads with unnecessary effects going on. While Nine Seconds are so clearly directed against the dance floor, I think they would benefit from peeling of some of the pad-building sounds to get more focus on the rhythm. More importantly though is to take the song writing to a higher level.
Despite the obvious qualities I miss some songs that really stands out with good melodies or some kind of hook that really sticks. Best chorus melody can be found in the “Antistar Machinery” but the best groove are accomplished by Cryo in their remixed version of “Waiting for the Last Kiss“, which is like a completely different song to the original. The Cryo-version is like a dirtier and more minimalistic club version. Also Mind.In.A.Box has made a powerful remix of “Attractive Lies” which turned out very atmospheric and in terms of production a true masterpiece that best comes out in headphones. Leaether Strip’s version of “Antistar Machinery” peels away most of both melody and sound production, leaving only a flat stomping base, and as usual with Leaether Strip, far too much distortion on most things, especially the vocals.
Nine Seconds are pretty much right on track and all that are missing for it to take off are stronger song material. Maybe I had too great expectations on this album after their promising debut. But I will continue to keep track of them with the hope that they’ll get all in on the next album.