The sophomore album from Acid City Nuns, The Engine melds throwback charm and futuristic intrigue — spanning from the serene sophisti-pop nostalgia of “Just Say So” to the electro-pop immediacy within “If You’re Ever Lonely.” Whether in the form of introspective instrumentals — like the lounge-friendly jazz of “Time Alone” to the lush escapism achieved via “Caribbean Dream” — or magnetic vocal-fronted pop songwriting, The Engine is a delight of a listening experience from Acid City Nuns.
Tender guitar stylings and an adoring dual-vocal layering enamor on the opening “I Love the Things that You Do,” kicking off the release with a breezily accessible appeal. The ensuing “If You’re Ever Lonely” presents a more upfront charisma, with fuzzy synth-bass and ascending vocals driving to a catching “if you’re ever lonely,” bridge into a delectably galloping hook; the nostalgic electro-pop and funk intertwining make for a stellar production on this engaging track.
Lush piano and dreamy vocals lead on another standout in “Just Say So,” crafting a sophisti-pop nostalgia with shades of Prefab Sprout. The title-touting refrain proves smoothly entrancing, with pit-pattering percussion and soft guitar twangs. The vocals peacefully descend into a simmer as the hypnotic instrumentation assembles, re-emerging with tactful precision. There’s a fun ’80s nostalgia apparent in this one-two punch of “If You’re Ever Lonely” and “Just Say So,” with the former exuding a more direct charisma and the latter embracing with a sweetly endearing sophisti-pop charm.
A lounge-friendly jazz arsenal impresses on the tranquil “Time Alone.” While not touting the hooky immediacy of the preceding efforts, it’s a calming mid-point table-setter, traversing into the late-night groove of “Tabula Rasa (midnight).” The album’s middle section fully struts Acid City Nuns’ premiere atmospheric chops, bridged together by intriguing conversational interludes. The finale, “Synthesis,” also succeeds with its vocal-less production and atmospheric strengths, concluding the album with a meshing of vintage funk and spacey electronic futurism.
“Faultless” is the final vocal-accompanied track on the album, also succeeding with a tranquil shimmering with elements of sophisti-pop, soul, and funk. Although the vocals and overall instrumentation do not show an abundance of tonal variety, the reassuring “child, it’s not your fault,” lyricism and twinkling keys compel with an inviting soundscape, an aspect that’s prevalent throughout the entirety of The Engine, from the lushly tropical “Caribbean Dream” to the infectious electro-pop of “If You’re Ever Lonely.” The Engine is a surefire success from Acid City Nuns.