Moogs for Moderns

Synthesized vocals really only sounded good once, and that was on Kraftwerk's Trans Europe Express back in the '70s, when the technique was still a novelty. Now we're all aware of the possibilities -- and, in this case, pitfalls -- of technology, so on Futureworld, the "synging" goes beyond cliche to become downright annoying. Take "Television Eyes": It starts out as a thumping tribute to Joy Division, but it's horribly mangled by vocoders and ends up as pure schlock. Not only are the HAL 9000 vocals irritating, on this album they're damn near omnipresent. And when Trans Am ditches the vocals altogether, as on "Futureworld II" and "Positron," the hookless and primitivistic droning that's left is about as exciting as another Yes reunion.

What's even more infuriating is to hear a song like "Sad and Young," which shows that Trans Am is capable of catchy, shoe-gazing pop. But that's the last track on the album, and you will have my heartfelt admiration if you make it that far before ripping this CD out of your player. If you do slog through the first nine tracks without losing your sanity, I've got some GTR albums you can have.

-- Matthew Hilburn

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