Artist: S.P.O.C.K (Star Pilot on Channel K)
Album: Another Piece of the Action: The Best of the Subspace Years
Label: Artoffact Records
Genre: Synthpop, Electro-Industrial
The Swedish (or extra-terrestrial, if you prefer) synthpop band S.P.O.C.K (Star Pilot on Channel K) have finally released a greatest hits compilation which is available in North America. This Star-Trek inspired, tongue-in-cheek humor-loving trio has been active since 1988, and have had some noticeable club hits over the past decades.
While some synthpop and futurepop acts might sound too plastic and cheesy, S.P.O.C.K. takes the cheesiness to another level and another planet, where it becomes an incredibly funny experience. Their smart use of spacey sounds of course all adds to the outer space experience of their music.
The album Another Piece of the Action: The Best of the Subspace Years contains 19 tracks. After the opening “The Awakening”, the band shows some of their best Depeche Mode inspired work with “Reactivated”. The space theme fully comes to life with “E.T. Phone Home”.
The fourth track “Dr. McCoy”, a single from 1998 and a club hit clearly has a 90s feel to it, but it still grooves almost 15 years after its original release. “Where Rockets Fly” is one of my synthpop top hits: it combines a great rhythm, spacey sounds, lyrics that make me chuckle (There once was a time/ when the future was bright/ and dreams of the world/ were cosmopolite) and great backing vocals.
“Alien Attack” brings a darker sound and refers to Kraftwerk and Telex – although the vocals on the verses must have been recorded in a hurry. “Queen of Space” is another elaborate track, where Depeche Mode seems to be right around the corner. “Wolf in the Fold” brings a more techno-inspired 90s sound which also in vocal style is reminiscent of 2 Unlimited.
The 9th track, “Satellites” is a catchy, more futurepop-oriented track – think Bruderschaft. The tempo is taken down again on “Not Human”, a darker track with horror-sounds and other creepy noises to add to the darkly funny lyrics. Bitpop sounds come on the track “Spacewalk”, which is reminiscent of the Freezepop songs.
“Astrogirl's Secret” and “Speed of Light” bring the synthpop sound back to the album. “Out There” is the perfect summary of the album: Everything is beautiful out there/ Outside the atmosphere/ That's where we want to be.
“All the Children Shall Lead” sounds like the scouts on a trip to outer space, singing and whistling while they're marching among the comets and supernovas. A last trip to the 90s is made on “Mr. Jones” which is Captain Jack in space.
The band's signature track is “Star Pilot on Channel K”, which takes the 17th place on the album. “Klingon 2000” is another club hit from 10 years ago which still works on the dancefloor. At the end of the album “Dream Within A Dream” brings the listener back to Earth: although there are still spaceships in this song, the main lyrical theme is dreams.
With variation far outside the borders of the synthpop genre, this album offers a great selection of danceable and enjoyable tracks.
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