Ice Choir - "Afar"

Ice Choir - "Afar"

  • Article by: Jon O'Brien
  • Posted: 07/27/2012

Bypassing the usual terms of reference for most ‘80s synth-pop revivalists, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart drummer Kurt Feldman’s side-project, Ice Choir, looks to less fashionable outfits Johnny Hates Jazz, Breathe and Waterfront for their debut album, Afar (7/31/12, Underwater Peoples). 

The Brooklyn-based quartet may look like a heavily-styled bunch of New Romantics but their sound is almost a scientifically precise replica of the blue-eyed soul and smooth FM pop that dominated the music scene during the latter part of the ‘80s.

Packed with computerized bass-lines and drum machine pads, no cliché is left unturned, particularly on “Peacock In The Tall Grass,” which even manages to shoehorn in a Bruce Hornsby-style piano solo amongst its sci-fi synths and Brat Pack soundtrack beats. 

A pure pastiche it may be but Feldman’s gentle whispery tones, (which appear to morph further into George Michael’s as the record progresses), borderline saccharine melodies and glossy crystalline production ensures that it’s at least a convincing one. 

Indeed, the homages to Scritti Politti on the sophisticated synth-funk of “A Vision Of Hell, 1996,” and Tears For Fears on the melancholic opener, “I Want You Now and Always” are so authentic that they could quite easily be mistaken for the real thing. 

The constant derivativeness begins to wear a little thin towards the end, although album closer “Everything Is Spoilt By Use,” a gloriously glittery ballad featuring the equally retro presence of Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek, is arguably the most inspired of the lot. 

But while Afar doesn’t even try to bring anything new to the table, it’s difficult not to be charmed by its refreshing irony-free affection for such a hopelessly uncool era. 

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