You step through the gelatinous doorway at the entrance of a night club known as Jel. A creature with six eyes and turquoise skin hands you a glowing beverage from a platter, which you take it and drink up, loosening your limbs to the perfect degree. You down one more and step onto the undulating dance floor. Everything is cast in fluorescent green light. The lights go out, and a spotlight hits a curtain on-stage. The curtain rises, revealing a large band . . .
One might say that the Beach Boys were onto something, what with all them harmonies and progressions and such. Truthfully, there may be no comparison to that legendary band’s lofty caliber of songwriting, and their impact still echoes through the music of today in many forms. Synesthetica is the newest full-length from Portland-based band Radiation City, a group that honors the Boys without using their influence as a crutch.
These nine songs tour through hybrids of bossa nova-flavored, sci-fi-tinged pop, ranging from tender serenades to shout-out-loud anthems. The otherworldly aspects of the instrumentation are layered so that each sound serves to compliment the foundational rock grooves established by the guitar, keys, drums, and that irresistible bass. Completing the picture are starry-eyed vocal harmonies that soar over everything.
Radiation City do maximalism so well on Synesthetica that any air of clutter is absent from their intricate compositions. A plethora of futuristic samples ornament each track, but their presence is subdued and tasteful, so they merely peak out rather than demand notice. This quintet gives me high hopes for pop, and the Boys can rest easy with their legacy in able hands. If you’re seeking bossa nova-flavored pop, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)