Turn Key, Colourful tones from an imaginative pop/industrial synth duo.

Label: Independent (www.turnkeyofficial.com)
Time: 14 Tracks / 54 minutes

Bekah Wilson and Donovan Cox are a husband/wife duo from Georgia, the former a sultry vocalist and her husband a multi-instrumentalist and producer, who has spent some time in metal and rock bands in Atlanta. His conversion to ‘80s synth-pop was a comparatively recent experience.

At its most melodic and with its break beats, this duo has more than a litle Andy Hunter about it (“Dreams Come to Life”), as it does when the synth tones change within songs – which they frequently do.  At the other end, when taking on more industrial beats, they veer towards Dépêche Mode territory. They use more exotic eastern tones than either, such as on “Days of Winter” and “Sandstone,” and sound surprisingly European for an American band.

The album has plenty of variety in approaching these songs (as the songs streaming on the web site show well). The insistent synth loop on “Think About It” makes it very accessible; ‘At What Cost’ uses a male rap verse with a strong female chorus; “Sensory Apparatus” is probably the most influenced by ‘80s pop, with a call-and-response of vocals and synth lines on the chorus; and “Do the Children Know” brings a beat to the fore, pushing distorted vocals back.

Sometimes the changes are within the song, such as when, after two minutes, the tinny beats of “Transhallucination” give way to a more magisterial and orchestral force from the keyboards.

The duo saves one of the best till last. They have no riff as strong as “Metropolis” and it leaves a potent line parading through the head.

At times, an unadventurous tune can lose a track’s momentum, or the vocal pitching can sound hesitant, taking the edge off an otherwise dreamy track like “Late Night Drive,” where bubbles of synth pulse up and string effects swirl. Don’t expect too much on the lyrical front, either. They are not afraid to use clichés (changing /re-arranging, make up/break up).

But overall, this is a very strong début, with its own sound, several darkly commercial tracks and enough interest to sustain repeated listens.



Derek Walker

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