More than 130 years after Elisha Gray accidentally invented the synthesizer, it has become almost second nature to take electronic music for granted. Even if more experimental sub-forms stand out from time to time, new electronic pop tracks can easily find themselves pushed under the couch with our Depeche Mode cassettes and Ratatat CDs. However, it’s important to sieve carefully, because every now and then, a real gem can be found.
Lemonade‘s Diver is a pop album full of subtle references to electronica over the years. With a general tone reminiscent of the aforementioned Depeche Mode and other ’80s electro legends, the programming and synth work on the album often takes a detour to recall everything from dubstep to house to Afrobeat. In this way, it is truly a modern dance album, but on the surface, Callan Clendenin’s vocals create an atmosphere as fitting for the amphitheater as it is for the dance floor.
If that initial atmosphere isn’t sufficiently varied enough for you, Lemonade takes care to explore many of the possible depths of electronic music without seeming too bombastic or pretentious. Simply put, each of the 10 tracks on Diver twist electronic dance in a different fashion. There are strong anthems that push hard all the way through (the dubstep-oriented “Big Changes” and breakbeat-influenced “Infinite Style”), slow, cool movements (R&B styled “Eye Drops,” epic, sprawling ballad “Whitecaps”) and almost everything in between.
When the compulsion to dance becomes tiresome, take a moment to gander at Clendenin’s lyrics. While lyrics have often been a secondary concern with regard to dance music, Lemonade’s speak volumes while still sounding great with the song at hand. Dealing with loss, love and pain as much as they do with triumph and celebration, Clendenin’s vocals and lyrics on Diver consistently recall a younger Dave Gahan, without directly imitating the icon’s style. Whether in the capacity of a pop song or in a dance banger, Lemonade packs a strong punch with Diver. Subtly, yet expansively, they reference a lot of great historical landmarks in electronic music while creating something entirely their own.
Depeche Mode – Construction Time Again
Catcall – The Warmest Place
Javelin – No Mas
Stream: Lemonade – “Softkiss”