We take a listen to Swindon’s indie four-piece, Talk in Code’s December album, Resolve, and I question modernism, Uncle Albert style…..
Laugh it up daughter of mine; she pops into the kitchen to find me listening to Years and Years. I’m pondering contemporary pop with an eighties style about it, and quiver if it’s left up to them! It seems to be a trend, yet I can’t find much comparable to the album I have to review from Swindon band, Talk in Code. Trying to avoid an Uncle Albert moment, which is too often these days, when I begin to mumble along the lines of “back in the nineteen-eighties……” and my daughter immediately switches off. She doesn’t seem to care that we only had three TV channels.
Despite my dubiousness surrounding bands self-labelled “indie,” and debates with Sheer Music’s Kieran on what defines the term, there’s something immediately likeable about Talk in Code’s new second album, Resolve; apologises to everyone, I’m impelled to make comparisons to eighties music, it’s an age thing.
Because instantly I’m reminded of the great pop-rock outfits of that period, of U2 and particularly, Simple Minds. The opening tune, “Play with Fire” does this, surprising me at how “pop-lite” it is, given my expectations of “indie” is that of the nineties pre-Britpop era with shards of goth and punk. Buoyant and up-tempo, it’s agreeable and pleasant, nothing of the rage or fury of my preconceived ideal.
Nailing it down to the synths as the root cause for my Uncle Albert moment, the second tune “Keep Safe,” pings Prefab Sprout at me; a cringeworthily comparison, as all the tracks here are acutely written, without nonsensical hotdogs and jumping frogs. Shall we say Alphaville or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and be done with it? That said, there’s also subtle echoes of all which indie shifted into through the nineties and naughties, from caressing the clubbing scene, Madchester and Ninja Tune, to groups like The Smashing Pumpkins or a non-psychedelic Spaceman 3.
Putting the Rubix cube back in my C5, I’d also make contrasts with what Devizes duo, Larkin are putting out. I like it, for it’s sophisticated pop, it’s modern sparkle, and highly catchy. Perhaps no tune on this album more so than “Oxygen,” which, after a couple of listens sent me to YouTube, wondering if it was a forgotten cover, as it was stuck in my head like classic pop should. Like an intoxicated first snog, felt like Oxygen and I had known each other forever, but we’ve only just met!
Steady as she goes, Resolve never deviates nor experiments, rather sticks to its working formula; synths and vocals on the following track “So It Goes,” keep the faith in a Simple Minds inspiration, the catchiness not waning, yet the album flows through five more tracks, taking you with it. Quoting influences from Coldplay and The Killers, to Daft Punk and archetypic Britpop groups, this four-piece have fashioned a polished and high quality, anthemic sound.
Since 2014, when the self-titled debut album produced by Geoff Swan, (known for his work with Haim, Ed Sheeran and Prides,) captured the attention of the industry; regional BBC Introducing and Q Music, Talk in Code have built a fanbase and are intensely motivated; with this new album, released in December, the professionalism clearly shows.
The good news for Devizes is, vocalist and guitarist; Chris Stevens, bass/synth and programmer; Mark “Titch” Turner, guitar, synth and programmer; Al “Sneds” Sneddon, and drummer and backing vox; Jamie O’Sullivan, will be Talking in Code down the Cellar Bar, as the first in a series of gigs titled Subterranean; Sheer Music’s determination to bring the town some full electric shows, not before Vince Bell supports the incredible Gaz Brookfield on 22nd February.
Said series of gigs at the Cellar Bar kicks off on March 1st then, with Chippenham indie three-piece, Socket supporting Talk in Code. Tickets are a fiver. If you can’t wait that long to see if I’m truthful about the potential of this proficient beguiling synth-pop indie outfit, and unless you want to travel to the Facebar in Reading, on 14th Feb, you really need to download Resolve.
All said and done though, some indolent research reveals Talk in Code do not cite any aforementioned eighties bands as influences, so it must just be me….and maybe Zammo and Danny Kendall. Bet you’re gonna ask Siri who they are aren’t you? Mr Bronson will have you, bloody whippersnappers!
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