| Artist: Halovox|
CD Title: Halovox
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
The solo project of former Brand New Idol vocalist Frank J. Freda, Halovox blends old-school analog synthpop a la early Depeche Mode with a more modern moody, often danceable arpeggiated synthpop sound reminiscent of bands like KieTheVez. Freda's 80s Depeche Mode influence is obvious not just from the album's prominent "Fly on the Windscreen" cover, but also from his occasional Martin Gore-esque backing vocal harmonies, early Depeche Mode-esque arpeggios, and melodic flourishes. In fact, the chorus of "Make Me Yours" even echoes the verse of Depeche Mode's classic "The Sun and the Rainfall". Of course, Halovox's self-titled debut isn't all mimicry and homage, but rather a formula that, while not particularly original, draws from a range of influences to form a solid club-friendly synthpop framework for the album's blend of catchy hooks and moody ambience.
With 14 tracks adding up to around 70 minutes of material, there's plenty here to keep synthpop fans happy. Top club-friendly cuts include "Make Me Yours", "Retrospect", and "Just Like Me"; all three are extremely infectious slices of classic synthpop. Freda pays tribute to Depeche Mode with a decent but disappointingly straightforward cover of the classic "Fly on the Windscreen" that finds him going as far as recreating Martin Gore's backing vocal harmonies with painstaking faithfulness. The album also contains its share of ballads that range from exceptional (the beautifully emotive "Waiting, Watching, Wanting") to slightly sappy. Those Depeche Mode fans that habitually hit the skip button when "Somebody" comes on will likely find themselves doing the same a few times here. "Foolish Slave", alternately, offers up the album's heaviest track, going in an almost industrial direction with powerful guitar riffing (the album's only guitar, in fact) and distorted vocals.
Overall, Halovox's self-titled debut is a well-written and well-produced album that walks the line between retro and modern for an offering that's likely to please a wide range of synthpop fans. Granted, some tracks are better than others, and many will find themselves hitting the skip button here and there based on their own musical preferences, but it's fairly solid overall with enough diversity and strong material to stand out in the synthpop crowd and make it worth checking out.
Halovox website: www.halovox.com
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