Butterfly Bones – Pretty Feelings EP

Butterfly Bones - Pretty Feelings

Butterfly Bones - Pretty Feelings EP

If the idea of 80s synth pop gets you excited, you’ll probably dig the Butterfly Bones EP Pretty Feelings. It’s got a feel-good summer vibe to it that might change your outlook during the impending dark, cold days of winter.

You may remember Heaven 17, Yaz, and those other haircut bands that constituted the earlier new-wave scene. And you may be getting into the newer versions of these bands: Yacht, MGMT, and so on. Butterfly Bones has the same dance beats, the same bubbly synths, and the same sing-song vocals that mark this kind of music. The song “Xoxo” has the flavor of Madonna’s “Lucky Star,” almost: it’s that kind of pop music. Butterfly Bones is interested in sunny, laid-back grooves. If “Xoxo” gets into some lyrical cliches with lines like “Never gonna get enough / Never gonna give it up,” it’s perfectly expected. You weren’t expecting anything challenging, after all. The music is never dark, the way Depeche Mode and New Musik used their synths to explore negativity and ambiguity.

The disco-beat rhythm continues through “Ur Hott” and “Magic Magic.” These could’ve been dancefloor staples from an era past. They still have a shot, I guess, if dance clubs still take chances on indie releases. There’s something irrepressibly cheery about “Magic Magic.” It’s partly the disco beat, but moreso it’s the major-key synth strings and the subtle guitar lines. There’s really no getting away from the beat that announces the band’s intentions at the start of “R U My Mother??” — it’s the kind of retro drum-machine fare that has 80s written all over it, with its choppy, gated snare and electronic cowbell. When you commit to this kind of Art of Noise opening, you either embrace that throwback idiom or you make it ironic. Butterfly Bones isn’t laughing, though, so you know they’ve taken this thing seriously.

It’s becoming less novel to mine 80s new wave for today’s hits, granted, but you can’t help giving kudos to the bands that pull it off so completely that you can’t tell whether the songs are from 2009 or 1989. I mean, “Honeycake” nails the sound so completely that it would fool the most diehard Human League fan. This is music for breezy, sunny, cloudless summer weekends.