I like Joy Electric. I also like 80's music. Put them together and you get Joy Electric's newest album The Otherly Opus. Combining a force of driving beats and powerful melodies, mastermind Ronnie Martin brings to the table possibly his finest work to date.
For me the album had a lot of firsts. It was the first Joy Electric album that actually had catchy beats. Ronnie is more known for mono-synthetic kicks that normally offer a sound reminiscent to a metronome with a subwoofer. On The Otherly Opus, he does things differently actually offering something the listener can dance to. Dancing reminds me of the other first: The Otherly Opus is the first album that reminds of the band Duran, Duran, the 80's electro pop sensation. When I heard songs like "Red Will Dye These Snows of Silver" and "The Ushering of the Magical Era," they screamed of resemblances to its like-minded 80's counterparts Duran, Duran, Tears for Fears, and the like. For all you 80's fans out there (all three of you), this album will be a real treat.
Past fans of the band, however, will get to experience a new side of the prism that is Joy Electric. I personally was not a big fan of JE's last album, The Ministry of Archers or Hello, Mannequin, and longed for a return to the days of the master work that was The Tick-Tock Treasury (now that was a good record). While The Otherly Opus doesn't exactly revisit the past, it does take its own new direction. "Colours in Dutch" sounds like a gem from the old days, and "Frivolity and its Necessities" reminds me of something that should have stayed on JE's last project. But amongst these songs arises "The Otherly Opus" and "Memory of Alpha" both which open with a meaningful Ronnie Martin belting out vocals in a precise manner. It's in the passion of the vocals that these songs are taken up to the next level. The concluding goodie, "A Glass to Count all the Hours," gives off a hybrid sound not heard on past albums. It's evident to see that after ten years, Joy Electric is still progressing towards a better sound, and it's in the new sound that Martin truly breaks ground as an orchestral genius.
The only thing that raises a question of confusion is Joy Electric's lyrics. Half of the time, I can't make out what Martin is saying and when I do, I don't understand it. I'm sure he means well when he crafts his songs using both symbolism and story, but I sometimes feel on the outside of an inside joke when I hear his music. Not understanding it is, however, my fault as a listener because I don't take enough time to. Nonetheless, for those of you who are new to Joy Electric's style and music, I couldn't think of a better album to start off with than The Otherly Opus. It offers a compelling and deep meaning behind the lyrics that I hope you will take the time to understand for yourselves.
I have to hand it to Ronnie Martin for pulling off a rocking 80's dance hall compilation with taste. An improvement in multiple areas and still offering an original sound gives the impression that Joy Electric is still 'kicking it' after years in the industry. For those of you who dislike Joy Electric, I challenge you to go give The Otherly Opus a try and you may find that what you've disliked so long might actually entertain you.- Review date: 4/3/07, written by Zachary Anderson
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