Intricate Emotional Synth Beats + The Highs and Lows of Love
With a modern take on 80s synth beats, Kristin Kontrol blends soft emotion with staccato edges, a series of repeat echoes, and rhythmic fades in new album X-Communicate. The complexity of the arrangements, from the variety of synth beats to live instrumentals layering on top of vocal harmonies, is impressive and is what sets this disc apart from a traditional synth pop project. The repeat vocals can get a little old, but it is a technique that works well, providing catchy, singable tracks that make you absorb the lyrics as you listen.
The disc starts off with catchy hit “Show Me,” which incorporates a variety of horns and drums along with a steady dance step delay. “There’s no need to change yourself/I’ll take you as you are” is repeated as a love mantra throughout, promoting positivity and self-acceptance. “White Street” comes next, opening with some rock guitar riffs before diving into some moving synth beats with a guitar overlay. “Don’t you wanna be something to someone?,” is the theme of next song, “(Don’t) Wannabe,” with a following sentiment of, “I don’t want to be your friend tonight/Call me your lover one more time.”
Tones switch to a more dark, mysterious space with title track, “X-Communicate.” “Should we X-Communicate our love or should we wait?,” is repeated in the catchy chorus, backed by a speedy synth rhythm and some atmospheric sound effects. The vocals are deeper throughout the verses, soaring to powerful heights during the chorus before drifting into a spacey, faded segment before being sucked back in.
“Skin Shed” brings things down even further, experiencing the lows of the journey of love. “What does this life leave unscathed and how much heartbreak can you take?/I am no good when I’m alone,” the lyrics sing. “I know it’s hard,” then follows as almost a self-reassurance. “Drive the Night” then cuts in with a surfy California feel, reveling in a nightlife adventure, embracing love, and running away with it.
“What is Love” starts off as a piano ballad, with a one-tone synth angelic note holding out among some subtle sound effects. “Today I kept busy, so I felt okay/ God bless the mania/ Today, I did good work, so I felt alright/ God bless the mania/ Change is hard, but I need a change of heart/ It’s just a balance, holding on letting go/ How can I move myself if I can’t move anyone else?” begins the most emotional anthem on the disc. The line that really sticks out though hits powerfully as it is repeated: “Did I ever know what is love?” Whoa.
“Face 2 Face” really funks up the disc with some interesting, heavy beats and thick guitar chords balancing out the light yet dragged out vocals. “Going Thru the Motions” is another heavy hitter. “We are not living if not going through the motions,” is the theme of this track, which mixes quiet white space nicely.
The disc then closes out with sad song “Smoke Rings,” which thrives off moving deep vocals and soft synth beats that rise into a subtle but intense chorus. “I blow smoke rings into my lover’s eyes/ It’s a fancy way for me to say goodbye/…I don’t need change/ It just makes me blue,” are the stand-out lyrics, while the vocals jump in some emotional ways, making the listener feel these sentiments with every changing note and rhythmic shift. The conclusion has come; it’s time for goodbye.