First things first, I’m not a big fan of this synthesizer revival. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve got Stevie Wonder, Hancock, or Booker T behind that shit I’m fucking butter. These motherfuckers work that shit till those keys change from black to blue. But somewhere in the recesses of my fucked up gourd, I categorize synthesizers alongside the harpsichord and the lute. If you’re going to play some shit you can’t pick up at the local instrument store, then you’d better be fly as fuck and go deep as hell. Shit music is still shit music no matter what you’re fucking playing. The tuba ain’t gonna change ya.
This album is a synth-drenched extravaganza. It’s a sweaty Moog, Korg, and Roland orgy. It’s an electro-fantastic ’80s pool party wearing thick-framed neon-coloured shades that’s waving ’em like they just don’t care. Some people drool like sick dogs as soon as they hear that electromagnetism, but my first reaction is to cringe. So, if you’re making a synth-heavy album, you’ve got some barriers of mine to get through, which makes this album all the more impressive.
Dinosaur was nominated for a Mercury prize last year with their album “Together, As One”. Laura Jurd leads this band with trumpet. She’s a cohesive leader. Some motherfuckers step to the front just to show off their shit while the backing band is left with for scraps and breadcrumbs. This isn’t Laura. When she leads, the band can follow along to her groove and rhythms. It’s not the Laura show, it’s Dinosaur. It’s a package deal. The style of this album is hard to pin point. At times it’s Sun Ra, at others it’s like The 5th Dimension, sometimes it’s even Herbie, but no matter where they go, the album comes off as honest. And the honesty and synth combo is really fucking hard to pull off. How can you tell the truth with a duplicitous piano?
I have a theory that a well-written groove and melody can sound good on basically anything. Check it: take your favourite pop song or melody and sing, or let someone else sing, that shit in bass. If that song still sounds sly then you’ve got yourself a fantastic fucking melody. But if it starts to get boring and derivative, then you have shit. You wanna know why Bach is badass? Cause that shit sounds amazing on the accordion, the theremin, and the steel drum. Make any instrument, play Bach, and it’s fucking gold. Man is a legend for a fucking reason. The fact that this album sounds great driven by synth proves to me that this writing is legit as fuck. The synth isn’t a gimmicky trick. Halfway through this album, that poser piano began to have a heart beat. It spoke and told stories. It felt alive even though I knew it couldn’t be. I fell in love with synth like you do with Pinocchio. And, goddamnit, if Pinocchio can be a real boy despite being made of wood, then I guess the synth can be a real instrument. It all depends on the heart that’s put into it.