"Metropolis", Myattmode's debut album is, according to his website, the result of nine months' work and the realisation of a lifelong dream. It seems an odd way to phrase it to me, "I've always wanted to make and release an album" - almost like an entry in a bucket list or something from one of those 101 Things To Do Before You Die books rather than "I love making music and here's my latest batch". Either way, Myattmode's album is a promising start rather than an accomplished work-of-a-lifetime.
This a very bare, very retro-sounding 90s electro/dance album that sounds sort of like the members of Depeche Mode on a night out with Renton in the world of Trainspotting and actually quite enjoying themselves (luckily Begbie doesn't turn up).
The good news is that it feels and sounds like an album, like a collection of songs that are meant to be together on the same record. It's got that old fashioned listen-in-order-from-start-to-finish vinyl approach that I find refreshing in our iPod shuffle'd world.
Unfortunately though, I feel he's chosen two middling songs, by his own standards, to start the album off. The synth melodies of "Birth of A City" aren't especially intriguing and leave you feeling they've come as secondary concerns despite being the driving force of the largely instrumental track. Industrial Leodis sounds like Happy Mondays without the singing.
But there are some really enjoyable, interesting points on Myattmode's debut - "Chilled Metropolis" makes use of beautiful, sweeping, airy synth with one or two dark chord changes and I really dig the unusual, digi-fuzzed textures and percussive samples he's worked into "Life After Death", a stomping late-80s sounding number that puts me in mind simultaneously of Beverly Hills Cop and the backing tracks to early football games on Sega consoles. Album closer Nightclub City is an intense experience, an ironic selection of sample complemented by Faithless-esque synth play..
The best songs on the album are the darker, mostly instrumental tracks in which Myattmode has explored industrial Leeds and got it under his skin. The weakest songs are generally, sadly, the ones with lyrics and vocals, he's actually got a really decent voice for this kind of stuff but the lyrics are very cliché and you can predict the end of the rhyming couplets. I think it's great news that he's better at unusual stuff than pop stuff, that bodes well in my book, but he might disagree.
It's a promising start from Myattmode and I hope he's not finished yet, I just hope he can whittle his sound down to something that's interesting and relevant to people in 2014 and onwards. I can certainly hear promise in his choice of sounds and the strength of the production. There's no harm in being retro but some of these tracks sound like song ideas Depeche Mode slipped out after their above-mentioned night out, and then subsequently binned the next morning. It's left me looking forward to hearing more though and that is no mean feat.