The guitar sound in the intro of First Time immediately puts me in mind of Ultravox’s One Small Day. Then frantic, insistent sixteenths on the hi-hats drive the tune along on a slightly progressive-feeling path. There’s great presence and bottom end on the bass and the capture of the kit sounds reassuringly expensive.
There’s a real pop sensibility to the building of melodies, however, and the inclusion of synth strings and pads (as the track progresses) add sheen to the production with a firm nod back to the 1980s.
The vocals are sweetly-delivered with great diction and add to the progressive feel of First Time as they remind me of Jon Anderson’s from Yes’s early recordings.
When we hit the chorus for the first time (see what I did there?), the backing track drops down to just guitar and vocals, and the emphasis is placed firmly on the ascending melody, which rapidly glues itself to your brain. The second full chorus has been chosen as the point to lush-up proceedings with the introduction of synths – that wouldn’t sound out of place on a modern OMD album.
As the tune proceeds, it builds, and a new counter melody is introduced over the chorus pattern towards the conclusion, creating some interesting counterpoint: ‘I kissed you in the light’. There’s a further retro nod as we then get a proper fade with the chorus repeating…
Radio Drive appear to be a band that knows how to do retro in a sparkly new suit. With some immediate melodies and interesting riffs, First Time is a diverting listen.