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Journal of Ardency


Class Actress

  !K7 (digital) / Terrible Records (vinyl)  
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Class Actress is the project of Elizabeth Harper. She has a good voice, slightly breathy, but very emotive, which is not really something you think of in the synthpop genre. Go ahead -- name another synthpop vocalist with a good voice, one who could, say, sing opera if he/she put their mind to it. Can't think of one? Me neither, and i think that is because this is a genre of music that does not place a lot of emphasis on vocals. But Harper is good, really good.

And yes, Class Actress is her synthpop act. The music is happy and digital, but not laptoptronically digital. Journal of Ardency is her debut release, a five song EP clocking in at just under 25 minutes. Let's examine the five songs.

Careful What You Say kicks things off with a slippery bass riff and Harper's voice dancing around the supple beat. There are happy little keyboard trills around, but mostly this is a rhythm song, moving inexorably forward. Eventually a gothy male voice comes in to sing along with her. This is, no doubt, a big dance hit for the black clothes and big hair set.

But Class Actress are not all goth. Journal of Ardency is a foray into Fever Ray territory. There are many layers of synths here, soaring and burbling all over a nice, thunking beat. This song sounds like it could have been a dance club hit in 1985. The wavering synth bass and her rapid singing work really well together on the choruses.

Class Actress keep mixing it up on Let Me Take You Out, which features chiming guitars and non-synth bass. I guess, given the general genre that she seems to be channeling, this is her Brotherhood-influenced tune. The bass drives this along at a nice pace, and i like the layers of chiming guitar.

Adolescent Heart seems to be more of a pop tune. Her voice is clearer here, coupled with some backing vocalists over a slow drum beat and tinkling keyboards. This songs sounds like Andrea Vaughn of My Favorite singing in Au Revoir Simone, which is, let's face it, a pretty awesome concept. That said, this is the lightest song on the album, and by that i mean that it is both Class Actress's most delicate performance, and their least substantial. I think if i heard a whole EP of this stuff, i would be raving about this tune. Nestled as it is amongst the rest of this EP, it seems a little weaker. Still, not bad by any stretch though.

I guess that part of what makes Adolescent Heart seem weak is that it flows right into the seven minute opus Someone Real, which is my favorite song on this EP. It starts with a tinkling keyboard bit, some frenetic drumming, and Harper singing nicely. Then a bouncing synth bass comes in, and the song grows in layers and layers. Eventually the voice fades out and it becomes an instrumental synth pop jam, with heavy riffing on the keys and the bass synth, while the beat thumps away mightily. Glorious, really. It's a good end to the record.

Overall i am very impressed. Then again, this is right up my alley. Those who are not so fond of synthpop might not be so impressed.

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Daytrotter: (Daytrotter is a website that features artists playing live in the studio, along with a short interview. Free downloads of songs if you register. Good stuff -- check them out.)


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