Album Review: Model Depose – “Splitting Light”

9/10

Album Review: Model Depose – “Splitting Light”

When it comes to electronic music, especially with a retro flavour, standing out from the crowd is easier said than done. The genre is currently saturated with bands competing to be the new sound of electronica so a band needs to offer something a little bit different.

Let XS Noize introduce you to Model Depose, a charismatic five piece band from The Netherlands whose sound is reminiscent of dark new wave from the postpunk era as represented by bands such as The Cure and Depeche Mode. However, distinct, emotion-filled vocals and solid, contrastive compositions of rock and new wave give them an original, recognizable, leading identity. Even before the band existed in its current form, band members played together in electronic doom and gothic metal bands and experimental ambient/noise settings. Their first sign of life was the release of their untitled EP in 2011. Back then, “Nikita” was the backbone of the band: a computer that was used for drums and samples. In 2012, the band decided to continue with a live drummer in combination with their trademark pulsating electronics.

In this setting, the band played major Dutch venues such as the Melkweg, P60 and Patronaat, where they alternated their energetic up-tempo pop songs with more modest, emotionally charged tracks. At the start of 2013, Model Depose won second place in the Demodock finals of Eric Corton’s music platform Cortonville and they were selected for the Popronde.

In September 2013, they released their EP Nightwatch which captured the band’s own description of “new wave and synthpop spiced songs in synergy with techno, electro and rock elements”. They have played shows in the UK which have been very well received, none more so than at BAS PRODUCTIONS 2015, a popular, electronic music event held at Basildon, Essex, the home of Depeche Mode and Yazoo. It was a great platform for new electronic bands and on a balmy night in June 2015, Model Depose arrived and made a huge impression. Today sees the release of their debut album Splitting Light released through the German Trisol Music Group. The opening track is Closer to Home – it’s a brilliant introduction with a heady mix of tight, spacey synths, wavy, rocking guitars and pounding drum. Lead Singer Roeland van der Velde’’s distinctive vocal always leads the song – clear cut, emotive and ice cool.

Papercut ramps up the energy further with a driving twanging guitar lead and steady drum beat. It’s fast, full paced and frenetic – a real listening joy. Roeland is intense on vocal to match the instrumentation. A reference to the album’s title is a little cool nod. This is to be listened to LOUD – it’s lush and breath –taking and feels indeed like “riding your bike with your eyes shut”. An album highlight is their take on the Portishead hit “Sour Times” – the emotion is still there, not languid like the original but it takes on a rockier vibe. It’s all about Roeland’s vocal on this song but beneath the surface there are multiple styles and influences (think Muse and The Cure) but with a modern perspective. It’s multi-layered, clever and smart.

Other stand out tracks , Greyscale, Rise and Fall, 2nd Crash and We Feel We Can Make It showcase Model Depose’s ability to create songs with strong vocals, filled with emotion, blistering synthesiser melodies, piercing guitars and an organic, grooving rhythm section. This is what makes them stand out. Nightwatch is a bonus track and it deserves a second outing. This is the song that defined the band, especially when played live. It’s a stunning synth fest of sound with just a pounding drum starting the song coupled with spiral undertones of electronica, slowly building in atmosphere before Roeland joins in with confident splendour – “ I am the Nightwatch, watching over while you sleep”  – it’s all uphill from here, the song is intense and anthemic and utterly glorious.

With Splitting Light Model Depose have succeeded in creating an album which showcases their love of melancholia in music with songs that are sometimes dark and dramatic or stirring and uplifting. It’s a really self-assured, confident debut and whilst they have played shows in Belgium and France let’s hope it’s not too long before they visit the UK to promote the album’s release.

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