Wednesday 16 May 2012


Listening to Mode Moderne's new EP Strange Bruises (released on Light Organ Records yesterday, 15th May) is a wonderful experience. It's like travelling back in time on a cloud or a magic carpet. And while you're travelling back, soaring through the skies of the past, the voice of Ian Curtis sounds in the air like a charm or magic amulet. Maybe that's unfair. There's an acrobatic side to the vocals, at times, that is more reminiscent of Morrissey, as in EP opener, 'Nightly Youths'.

Either way, twofold irony and non-irony of a name that means 'modern fashion' is quite a nice touch. It is not modern music as it sounds like the post-rock-synth-pop of the 80s. But it is modern because bending our necks, and ears, back to this era is a trend at the moment. Realising this is like hearing birds sing on a May morning as the trees rustle under the sleepy gaze of a cool sun.

'Guns' is brilliant, displaying the pop-rock sensibilities of the band, sounding like a cross between Joy Division and The Stone Roses - kind of like Editors, too. It's earthy, rich and altogether a joy to listen to (no pun intended). At other times, the sound is entirely a more psychedelic, more cheerful and less darkly lo-fi as Joy Division, as in the flanger-happy earworm breeding 'Private Library' and the agoraphobics' nightmare of a last track, 'Open Air'. This last one really gives a sense of being outside, a kind of warm suburban feel of languishing exploration twinned contrapuntally with a been-there-done-that ennui.

This darker side to Strange Bruises is highlighted by the natural melancholic desperation, which creeps in the crooning vocals, noticeable especially in the aggressive minor vibes of 'Electrocute Me'. This is evident also in some of the painfully contrasting lyrics of the track: "Some things lead something, others lead to nil"; "I apologise, but I wanna die"; and "I cross my legs, uncross my legs, and cross my legs".

Other lyrical statements include the gloriously inane, "Raise your hand for sugar in your tea, raise your hand for luxury" in title track, 'Strange Bruises'. There must be plenty of others, but I cannot quite transcribe all of the lyrics here. It deserves a couple of listens, basically - you catch something new every time.

There's a lot of energy, as shown in most of the songs, but the wall-of-sound, sunny overdrive of 'Foul Weather Fair' is a good illustration, as is the demi-sad 'Electrocute Me'. This is an energetic anti-dirge of a dirge about, I suppose, being in a constant state of two minds over something or other. The refrain that begs "Electrocute me..." is a plaintive cry amidst the jangly distortion of the guitar and it sounds positively, or negatively, great.

It's new new-wave. If you like The Drums, or Editors, and want something that sounds more authentically past-future (or future-past) than both, then get on board with Mode Moderne.

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