The Less Dead’s album Off chance has made me re-evaluate a lot of things. The one thing I can firmly say with near certainty is that angels aren’t going to be playing harps in heaven, they’ll be using synths.
This album is literally so comfy. It’s the type of album you play on a rainy day, cuddled up in bed, reading your favorite book. The whole time I was listening to it, I was thinking how great this album would be for a youtube studying channel. Now it could be that I’m biased seeing that it’s nearly time for me to go to bed. So I’ll ignore the comfiness and really dive into this album.
Most synthwave albums seem to have this preoccupation with sci-fi dystopias and their sound typically reflects that. The Less Dead’s album just brims with optimism. Take the first track it’s so fun, it contains so much enthusiasm. The synths are incredibly complex, and in each song, the synths maintain their complexity. What I mean by complexity isn’t a bunch of synths doing their own separate thing and putting them all together to create this cacophony of sound. Each synth harmonizes with the next while maintaining it’s own complexity.
The next song Entropy follows suit and maintains the same level of optimism, but also shows The Less Dead’s their next strength, which is that the percussion is a joy to listen to. It’s so refreshing to hear something other than a simple stock drumbeat and an occasional tom fill. Even in the 80’s, with corporate music dominating the scene, there wasn’t as nearly as monotonous uncreative drum beats that most synthwave artists use nowadays. With every clap, hi hat, mallet, cowbell, etc. (I probably got a few of the instruments wrong) The Less Dead breathes much needed life into synthwave.
Another about The Less Dead is that their darker sound really fascinates me. It’s not over the top, dripping with despair, or filled with this evil viciousness. It’s the kind of darkness that you see when you’re watching your favorite childhood movie and you see the scary scene that you used to be frightened at. As an adult you’re no longer scared of the scary scene because you know it’s going to turn out alright. Take for example one of my favorite tracks of the album, It Can’t Be Shut Off. It’s a track that hints at a greater threat–the synths growl, there’s an electronic beep throughout the song as though you are listening to a robotic heartbeat–but it’s never frightening. The same applies to It’s Out There. The track itself is creepy, but it’s the kind of creepy that you see during Halloween. Where you dress up as the thing that scares you, and as a result conquer your fears.
The album quickly returns to it’s optimistic, warm, and friendly tone. It even features an incredible guitar part on City Life. Love is probably the best example on the whole album of how warm The Less Dead’s songs can be. It takes you back to a more innocent kind of love. The kind of love where all other needs are met, and the only thing you want is that other person’s company.
Unlike most synthwave artists The Less Dead’s Off Chance is album that doesn’t fear the future. In fact the phobias, fears, and neuroses of the future are conquered in this album. Very much how like as a child you so incredibly terrified of the monsters lurking in the closet, and how that fear would overwhelm you–but now as an adult you look back fondly on childhood, and cherish the innocence you once had–and even the monsters that still could be in your closet.
This album is a definite recc for anybody who wants the sound equivalent of a warm cup of hot chocolate.