Crumbling Hearts (Independent)
For whatever reason, there aren’t a lot of synth-pop artists these days hitting the dance floor in a mood that could loosely be defined as melancholy. At the moment, no one wants to be bummed out like Depeche Mode or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark—they’re more into hitting the same glitzy, beautiful-people parties as Crystal Castles and the Golden Filter.
Combine the Victorious bucks that trend on its five-song Crumbling Hearts EP. The band’s name suggests one of those Hitler-haired Victory Records emover acts that were all the rage a half-decade ago. What you get, though, is retro-tinted dance music guaranteed to resonate with those who spend far too much time alone in their lonely bedrooms, watching a cellphone that never seems to ring.
Like, say, Depeche Mode, Combine the Victorious doesn’t sound completely fixated on wallowing in self-pity. As coolly detached as the duo—Isabelle Dunlop and Mark Henning—is, there’s an ethereal underside to the unrepentantly synthetic title track and the ghostly “Glasgow”. The EP’s standout is “California State of Mind”, on which an elastic bass line and squelch-city percussion serve as the backdrop for a sun-kissed reminiscence of a road trip to the state where it never seems to rain. Amazingly, Combine the Victorious manages to make that sound melancholy, although maybe not enough to make anyone forget OMD.