By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
André Anjos has come to some acclaim as the founder of the Remix Artist Collective, a network of remixers who have chopped and screwed songs by indie heavyweights such as Bloc Party and Tokyo Police Club. His skill at juxtaposing old-school electronic sounds alongside standard rock & roll dynamics is at play in his synthpop band, the Pragmatic. On its self-released Circles EP, it's hard to miss the influence of the Postal Service, the collaboration between Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard that opened many ears to the beauty of sculpted synth sounds and clicky drumbeats. The Pragmatic carry this torch mostly because of Karl Kling's nice-guy vocals, which are positively Gibbardian in their breathy inflection and sweet approach.
But the Pragmatic's three keyboardists aren't just versed in laptop pop. Buzzy, low-end synths and drum-machine cymbal crashes lend dark-wave electro menace to "Deathmatch," a song reminiscent of the Faint's early forays into synthesizer deviance, while a host of '70s and '80s sounds — including airy string pads ("Circles"), brusque, squelchy bass lines ("Academy"), and video-game beeps and blips ("You Blame Me") — influence other songs.
While the synths themselves sound great, the Pragmatic's melodies never quite take flight and the hooks never fully sink in, making these five songs catchy but not addictive. Still, two standouts (the title track and "Rendezvous") would fit snugly on a Hype Machine-curated playlist or the in-store play rotation at Urban Outfitters. That may seem like a backhanded compliment, but it's not: It speaks to the Pragmatic's skill at mining the still-rich treasures of new-wave sounds and the current indie-electro aesthetic.
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