As listeners of music, we are all somewhat programmed as to how a synthpop CD should sound. When I think of 80’s synthpop, I think of The Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, and Soft Cell. My brain would love to compare Celluloide to these bands, but that comparison would be totally unfair. And yet I do anyway. I love 80’s synthpop, and this album has plenty of it, for Celluloide has a great grasp of the electronics medium and a great sense of that retro-synth mentality. But…
I like my synthpop a little more lived in. Celluloide’s approach is a bit too clinical and devoid of real emotion. The inherent problem with synthpop is that its aesthetic qualities are generally melody driven. Bands like Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys, underneath the pleasant melodies and harmonic structures, managed to offer a vision of a world on the brink of spiritual collapse. It is unfair for me to compare, but this comparison stems from Celluloide’s referential dip into the Pet Shop Boys/Depeche Mode sound pool. Despite Celluloide’s structural reliance on the aforementioned bands, the songs on Naïve Heart lack that air of human frailty.
The songs on the album are good, with the hint of greatness looming behind a thick fog of restraint. There are no standout tracks, but the album is pleasant to listen to despite a tendency to take refuge in repetition. Perhaps Celluloide can take their experimental synthpop to another level on their next effort.
In addition to Celluloide’s official release of Naïve Heart, the band also released a limited edition experimental version of the CD. This experimental version offers a glimpse of a mechanical world of forlorn android love and disappointment. On the song Wounds Of Love, the line “How can you refuse my kiss?” is the product of overwrought circuitry as opposed to neurons, but it does not make it any less sad.
The difference between the two versions of the CD is simple: on the “official” version it sounds like people trying to sound robotic. In the “experimental” version it sounds like androids wrestling with their artificial humanity. It seems that the “official” version was more about accessibility. By removing this accessibility factor, the songs actually take on a new life and energy. The content and method of conveyance are more compatible. This consistency makes this a much more formidable release and points the band in an interesting direction.
Artist Link: http://www.celluloide.online.fr