Roladex’s label new album, Anthems for the Micro-Age, was described by their label (Medical Records) as sounding like Kraftwerk playing Magnetic Fields songs. That’s a slightly odd, yet overall effective comparison. After all, the the duo uses punchy Kraftwerk-ian synths and robotic rhythms over a lushly nonchalant yet highly melodic lyrical and vocal accompaniment, similar to Stephin Merritt’s delivery. In a sense, Roladex’s sound is like a cousin to Magnetic Fields’ electro-pop infusion tracks, such as “Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits“. But the sound isn’t close enough to be brothers, largely because Roladex delivers a distinctive electro-pop hybrid, with Kraut-rock and post-punk elements, whose comparisons are merely complementary, as opposed to all-encompassing.
The album’s self-titled track is a blast from the past. “Anthems for the Micro-Age” has the punchy synths of a Kraftwerk classic, but it also touts the melodic and lyrical wit of early Pet Shop Boys efforts. The simple yet effective fuzzy bass, flashes of angelic backing vocals, and overall vintage synth arsenal is particularly reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys’ “Rent“, one of my favorite tracks of all time. The synth solo around 02:30 really hits a sweet spot in that sense, because the melody provides glimpses of “Rent” nostalgia. Lyrics listing mundane tasks reinforce the nonchalant vibe, though – as Pet Shop Boys, Magnetic Fields, and Roladex prove – exciting and timeless tracks can certainly show off nonchalance without being boring. That’s one of my favorites, too.
Stream Anthems for the Micro-Age in its entirety below, and purchase it on Bandcamp: