80th Disorder – Transform EP

80th Disorder
Transform EP

Know of any bands from Finland? I can’t seem to think of any right now, excepting 80th Disorder — and it’s only because I have its CD right in front of me. This release, Transform, shows a band comfortably re-living the days when OMD and Ultravox were ascendant. But Midge Ure seems like less of an influence overall than does Adrien Borland of the criminally overlooked band The Sound.

The band describes itself as synth-wave, which is apposite as far as it goes. The synths do underpin the songs with atmospheric chords in a bunch of places. But they don’t dominate the sound, and synth acts like Human League and Heaven 17 never had the kind of drumming and guitar work that you’ll hear on Transform. Transform, instead, sounds more like an extension of The Sound’s Shock of Daylight with touches of Talk Talk, especially in the vocals.

For example, the title track’s bass and slightly syncopated drumming carry the song’s verses. The compressed/sustained guitar’s lines come in during the bridges, but it’s the rhythm section that makes the song move. “Sympathy One” also uses a rolling bass line to give it character. The mournful and slightly histrionic vocals have that Talk Talk feel to them. Plus, the song opens and closes with only drums. Acoustic drums, actually – there are no synthetic beats here at all.

“Desolate Journey” shows an early Cure or Banshees influence as it starts: the toms, the bass. It’s kind of sinister as it progresses, but it sounds like play-acting. Its attempt at urgency via the vocals doesn’t quite convey, but once the Adrien Borland guitar kicks in it does find some momentum. Its abrupt ending surprises you. “Death In Venice” has an elegiac aspect to it. It’s slower than the other songs and musically keeps things pretty simple so that you find yourself focusing mostly on the singing.

This EP shows some promise, and – because it made me remember how good Shock of Daylight was for its time – I have to wonder whether a full-length will favor The Sound over The Cure. I vote for The Sound.