Truth be told, it’s been so long since we had a proper release from ∆AIMON that Brant Showers’ solo work as Sølve had perhaps begun to blur in our minds with the metaphysically-minded duo who first grabbed our attention nearly a decade back. We needn’t have worried. Just a minute into this new four-track single, everything that made Brant and Nancy Showers’ work as ∆AIMON so special to us came rushing back. Compressed, noisy beats are inlaid with clear and sober piano, while orchestral atmospheres harry above it all. “Devote//Devour” rides a threshold between coarseness and transcendence with the sort of fin de siècle decadence and rumination that ∆AIMON have long since earned. “A Snake Of June”, while more laid back, feels like a more rough and tumble rock track in terms of instrumentation; its rolling hi hats are the only hint of ∆AIMON’s sequenced origins. Nancy’s vocals take on an almost bluesy swing, even as they point to the sort of otherworldly gaze that tracks like “Current” had on lock. A pair of slightly augmented instrumental reworkings flesh things out, offering both club flexibility and a reframing of the crushing beats ∆AIMON still deliver. ∆AIMON may have been dormant for a spell, but there’s no dust on them.
Wisconsin’s Sweat Boys ply a sweet, sincere form of unreconstructed synthpop on their 2019 Nervous Prayers EP. Hearkening back to North American purveyors of the genre like Men Without Hats and Rational Youth, it’s music with spritely energy that establishes big melodies, and pushes them hard via synthesized arrangements that are mixed for clarity and impact. Opener “I Don’t Love You” particularly feels like it could have been plucked directly from 1982, the chiming lead and simple 16th note bass and kick-snare drum pattern giving Benny Sweat room to sell the song’s upbeat and melancholic lyrics. Sweat’s choices as vocalist are solid, shifting registers and sliding coy variations in to emphasize a specific lyric or mood; see the tenderness with which “Never Be You” is delivered even as Sweat laments that his current, more attentive partner can’t replace the lost love the song is addressed to. Even when placed next to the distinctive quaver of Kite’s Nicklas Stenemo on “Endlessly” he acquits himself, playing it back so that Stenemo can deliver some quirkiness. At five tracks deep the EP doesn’t lack for hooks or singalongs, and demonstrates an understanding of form that eludes many comparable acts mining throwback synthpop for its simple pleasures.