‘Divine Design’ is the debut album from the American solo artist Thomas Hughes, the album itself features 12 tracks including two remixes and a ‘Reprise’ of tracks taken from the album itself. As you can see from the track list, the tracks are divided into three sections; this is probably more to do with the lyrical content within the tracks themselves. Declaration produce a largely darker brand of Electronic Pop with at times a 90s Depeche Mode edge to the music, but with a more melodic and pop orientated feel while Thomas Hughes has a big, almost booming voice that is well used in a variety of styles to great effect trough out the album itself, especially evident on the ballad ‘Based On A True Story’.
Like any other album there are a number of tracks here that clearly stand out here, least not the harder sounding ‘Factory’ with seemly a touch of distortion on the vocals, it breaks nicely into a very strong chorus and is very much one track on the album that will grab your attention while its remix, the ‘Mechanical Heart Mix’ adds a vocoder to the vocals, but returns to the full vocals of Hughes for the chorus in this excellent remix that fully retains the original version while adding a different edge to the track, largely with the robotic feel to the vocals, this is one track (in either version) that will be filling up dance floors for some time to come. Also standing out is the equally impressive ‘Welcome Home’, a strong and steady mid-paced track that builds to a simple chorus where the vocals stand tall while another outstanding track is the moody and moving ballad ‘Based On A True Story’, a strong and powerful track that gently sweeps along while adding a touch of rippling piano in the later stages of the track itself, this is another track that will further increase the Depeche Mode similarities on the album. Another strong and impressive track that shows both the strength and diversity of the vocals is ‘I Loved You’, a more mid-paced track with a light, almost live feel to it while another track with a strong 90s Depeche Mode sound is ‘When Push Comes To Shove’, the track itself recently appeared on the ‘State Of Synthpop’ CD box set which may make it one of the more familiar Declaration tracks to most people, this mid-paced track with a semi-spoken vocal delivery picks up with a strong chorus with vocals to match, the track itself is also featured here as a remix, the ‘Coliseum Mix’, the full vocals remain, but are pushed right to the background of the song with the remix in general lacking the drive of the original, especially the strong chorus, if the vocals where more up front and chorus had remained then this remix could have been very good , but unfortunately not while also excellent here is ‘Center Of It All’, another strong, ballad type track that builds well to a lifting chorus while through out the track itself displaying the strength and dept of those vocals while for a track that begins as if it’s too fast, ‘Declaration’ soon evens out into a steady and up-tempo pace while the addition of its strong chorus turns ‘Declaration’ into another largely excellent track.
Also strong here is the more mid-paced ‘High Reality’ which really builds up pace and takes off in another big chorus with the vocals to match while equally mid-paced is ‘Book Of Love’ with its almost spoken vocals that lead to a harder and almost grinding chorus where the semi-spoken vocals fade somewhat into the background leaving the chorus to fail to make its full impact, especially considering the lyrical content of the track itself. There are unfortunately a number of tracks that featured guitar samples, but over all this is very much an electronic album while I should also mention the impressive design work on the cover, booklet and CD by Blake P.Jabieski and at that a first time effort.
The present Synth Pop scene continues to see an interesting and varied selection of releases being made, especially this year and ‘Divine Design’ is easily among these releases, high quality dark Electro Pop combined with the sheer strength of its unique vocals will clearly not fail to impress on this largely excellent release. Declaration is very much another act that further increases the level of interest in the American Electro Pop / Synth Pop scene.
Artist Link: http://www.hearmydeclaration.com