Retro synth junkies and pastel schlock purists, welcome to your new neon dream wave. Korine have distilled every pinpointed reference to synthpop and retro kissed indie, and created an 80s love letter.
Though the citations and credits of Depeche Mode, New Order and Erasure are well worn, in the case of Korine they are worthy. Nuances dug from pre-dance guitar rhythms, the synth modulations that ramp up a track, that tell-tale snare sound and those slight-echo vocals, they’ve been lovingly sniped and updated. Add that nostalgic comfort to the goth romance voice that recalls Robert Smith at his poppiest, and we have something more than a throwback. The Night We Raise is heartfelt dedication.
Okay, 80’s revival has been going so long that ‘revival’ is no longer valid. And okay 80s synthpop is no longer a genre that depends on a long lasting memory, which is handy – I was 4 when they ended. The sounds and the throwbacks are so all-permeating that’s it’s tough to stand out in the nu-new-wave cool, but amongst all this album stands tall.
From the off, with the synthetic Phil Collins toms that punctuate verses and rhythms, we know exactly what to expect. Lush tones cascade, icy keys lay on top, there’s a power pop virtue with flailing limbed vocals and we know we’re in bed with the past. ‘Fate’ is the first to bring in the staggered guitars of New Order’s ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’, and while they hide at the back they are central. They’re the organic parts and components.
From here we run smoothly with passion and feel through an album of heartfelt nostalgia. At times we strip down and we’re all better for it, though these moments are scant and seem fleeting. The verses of ‘Cruel’ are minimalist grandeur with choruses fit for the dancefloor. Same applies to the sparse ‘When We’re One’, where verses that start off with lucid guitars give their grit up to synth heavy textures. But In the middle, in the short snap of orchestral hits that dial up 90s rave and euphoria, we catch glimpses of new tricks and breakouts. And these tricks are continued in the following ‘The Last’ which again mixes decades and samples.
With the closing track ‘Cast’, which is the closest we get to a changing in tempo and is by some way the leanest track on here, we secure the best run of the album. It’s an album that started its life in Philadelphia, then found labels in FR and Russia. And the further we move from the start of the LP, the better its sounds and songs get.