ARTIST: Mark Nicholas
ALBUM: Duchess 33
REVIEWER: Matthew Johnson
Mark Nicholas calls his new solo material "dirty electronic," perhaps to distinguish it from the more purely '80s-influenced synthpop he released under the name Cosmicity. It's a pretty good description; although the main influence is still synthpop, opening track "Green" has a gritty pulse, like Nine Inch Nail's "Closer to God" with less angst and more straight seduction, while "Two Sandwiches" combines the crunchy drum machines of classic Front 242 with the sampled raunchiness of harder contemporary artists like Caustic. Cosmicity fans have no reason to fret, either; despite Nicholas's new direction, there's still plenty of solid synthpop here, like the slower "Selective Memory Loss" and melodic "Coming Clean." Nicholas does run into trouble with cliches here and there, but for the most part he's clever enough to dig himself out again. "Little Goth Girl," for example, is an electro retread of material better covered by Type O Negative's "Black Number One," but it saves itself with a harpsichord solo during the bridge. Likewise, "Perverse" busts out with some tired sex moans looped alongside the drum and synth patterns, but solid vocal production and an unexpectedly well-done rap section verse makes up for it. Nicholas hasn't invented a new genre, here, but he's definitely progressed as an artist, and synthpop fans looking for something a little nastier than the usual electronic love songs are in for a treat.
Visit www.marknicholas.com/ for song sample and other information.
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