St8 outta Austin, TX, the electro duo Ghostland Observatory brings their third CD, Robotique Majestique. While it’s got an ‘80s feel (heavy on the synth, heavy on the drama), it’s also got postpunk aggression and often an improvisational feel. Vocalist Aaron Behrens is perfectly suited to producer/drummer Thomas Turner’s complex, loud disco beats. The obvious comparison is to Freddie Mercury (particularly on “Heavy Heart”). The less obvious comparisons are DFA 1979 meets the Darkness. Or perhaps the Scissor Sisters on crank.
Sometimes Robotique Majestique goes a little too far into the “big important silly bombast” category, and shows how thin a wire Ghostland Observatory balances upon. It’s so easy to slip off into a song that’s just weird and dumb for no good reason. Compare the title track to a song like “No Place For Me,” for example, which has the same kind of build-up and electronic intensity, but it just works better. Maybe it’s the consistent bounce, or maybe it’s that certain indescribable something that’s the difference between success and not-so-much-success. “The Band Marches On” is a marching song, that clearly owes a debt to Nine Inch Nails, but has this upbeat kinda thang going on that’s just . . . Cool. And Freeheart lover reeks with attitude. Love it. Despite the occasional slip, this album should satisfy fans of the genre, fans of the band, and may even attract a few new followers.
No Place For Me