Brand New Idol is the modern evolution of the band known to many in the NJ scene, and to the world via MP3.com as Joy Machine, which had been active throughout the 90's making heavily-influenced, DM synthpop. In an interesting twist, the lead singer of Joy Machine, P.Riley went off to form the BritPop stylings of Saintface, a band with mostly traditional instruments. This did not stop the core members from pursuing the song, sound, and melody that is synthpop and so, this project lives on. With the addition of F.Freda on the lead vocals, Brand New Idol makes their contemporary debut with the self-released, "Still Beautiful Falling Apart".
As with some of Joy Machine's songs, BNI has got some great song hooks and this really carries this album. The songs are well formed and offer plenty of that "sing along" quality that eludes many other synthpop projects.
The album opens up with "Never Again", which is interesting, because it is a slow tempo, minimal ballad of sorts that really should be placed somewhere beyond half way through the album, but it does set up for the songs that follow if the listener digs the sound right off. Frank's vocals work well in bringing this track to fruition.
The next track is "The Notorious Gentleman" and I had some trouble here. The vocals did not click as nicely, and the song is a bit too much like the older Joy Machine material, especially in the bridge, which is a dated statement for a current release. The track could also use some more diverse instrumentation, as the harmonic content is somewhat too, one-sided, and there simply was not enough depth in the aural content to orchestrate this song. But again, the song itself has enough merit where it will work for most. This track also shows that vocals that sit that far up front must really be immaculate or it does not work.
Next, "Your Favorite Disguise" rolls out, and is a very catchy tune with simple, poppy sounds and a hop-along bassline. Someone else in BNI sings here, and it works out just fine. This track would work very well in some of the more ethnic nightclubs with a chorus that has a distinctly European flavor.
"Silent Whispers", another ballad has some nice moments with synth lines that invoke some long lost Erasure track. There are some vocal issues here, but they are lost when the background vocals join in, which was not frequently enough. Overall, this song was a bit too regimented in the vocal performance and would benefit greatly from a more involved, emotive crooning.
"Someone Else's Eyes" should perhaps be BNI's signature song. This song has all the components needed to make people dance, shake their head, and tap along. The synth work in this song is conducive, and fits into it's space, and the global pads sit well underneath the trippy pops. This is one of the better produced tracks on this album.
"The Lonelier You Get" is yet another ballad, and this one gets much closer to the mark than "Silent Whispers" did. This is a good song, and like the opening, "Never Again" is well-suited to Frank's vocal style and performance. The synths within this track sound a bit more polished as well, and help bring this song to a high point throughout.
Next is "Hold Me", and this song is the best BNI track all around. Freda's vocals are nice here and the extra FX on the voice are a big help, and BNI should use this track as a "do it like this" marker. This song can make a great single, and lends well to remixes so we'll keep an eye on that. Referring back to the opening comment, the album should open with this track.
Finally, "Still Beautiful Falling Apart" is another view back into JM history with some interesting falsetto "whoos" and a dialogue section to boot. This song has some good
lyrical juice and overall is very pleasant to listen to.
Overall, this is a great intro back into the release cycle for this relatively venerable group of synthpop players and with some refinement, BNI is a band to keep tabs on.
Great songs, arrangement and hooks
Very natural, synthpop appeal
Excellent potential for further development
Vocally, Some tracks are too stiff
Greater diversity in instrumentation, and musical dynamic is needed
More production polish is needed in some areas
Artist Link: http://www.brandnewidol.com