Crossing Over - Review
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, we have this project as the brainchild of solo artist Mark Roberts.
This ten track album marks the artist's full-length debut, following the debut EP Afterthoughts
released in 2013. The music spans various genres though heavily anchored in electro-pop.
I have to admit that it took a while for this album to grow on me. Though the electronic music was captivating right from the start, the higher vocoded vocals at first were something of a distraction for me. However, as I settled in and listened to the album several times and picked out the favorite pieces for our radio show, as I've listened to those tracks mixed with the others on our radio, those selections have really grown on me. Overall the heavily pulsating synths provide the solid foundation and that was enough to hold my attention long enough for the rest of the music to grow on me. The soft ethereal touches are a nice bonus and on tracks where the vocals are a little more solid and melodic, we have a little more authentic sound that falls into the dark wave arena.
Favorites on the album vary as much as the entire album does across the various genres, styles and lyrical content. The quirky, yet ethereal introductory synths on "Appalachian Trail" were enough to immediately grab my attention, then the heavy pulsating electronics and beat throughout much of the rest of the track override the awkward vocoded vocals for a solid piece. "Who's Going to Love Me Now" delves into the kind of self-loathing lyrics and somber music you might expect from The Smiths
or early Morrissey
. The music remains fairly steady, but the solid vocals also stand out. This drops us right into the heavy beats of "You Can Now Let Go" which is another stand-out piece, with these heavy beats combining with equally heavy layers of throbbing synths while again backing the solid vocals portraying the moody lyrics. However, this track also introduces the one piece of percussion that starts to rub the ears raw, the hand clap. While okay on this track, mixing well with the heavy beats and synths, as the album moves on we start to encounter this clap and thrusting itself into the more enjoyable parts of other pieces. A definite favorite that is blemished by this percussion is the favorite track "Machine Love" which features the angelic female vocals of Sarah Kelleher of Misfit Mod
. This beautiful voice over the backing of the quirky yet pulsating heavily layered synths creates a heavenly electro-pop sound that is a perfect mix and a favorite on this album. A couple other favorites on the remainder of the album include "Remember Our Light" which brings out the more dynamic, and emotionally captivating vocals and lyrics layered over the various electronic loops. And then to wrap up the album we're presented with "Let's Fall Silent", another softer, more etheral darkwave piece. Yet while the electronics and vocals are a nice blend, the percussion can be a bit distracting as the album winds down.
So there you have it, a nice dynamic electro-pop album. With enough dark wave touches and emotionally captivating somber moods to keep the listener hooked throughout the ten tracks. While several stand great on their own and have become favorites here on Gothic Paradise.