1985 is a digitally vibrant collection of songs rightfully inspired by the time offered in its title. The artist Us3r, AKA Kristian, has comprised the project with a certain electronic aura, but within this is an impressive display of songwriting that consistently offers something fresh and new to explore.
Renegade as an opener feels like an EDM soundscape initially, though it evolves to become a beautifully melodic and inspiring bit of writing and performance. Sound-wise it falls somewhere between the likes of Owl City and M83, though more historically influenced of course by the retro tones from the nineties and earlier. The finish is crisp, clean and captivating, and the very concept of the song is uplifting and motivational. The lyrics are superb, simple yet effective – an easy rhyme scheme meets the positive energy of the song and makes for an energizing few minutes. A great way to start the album.
I wanna be outside the lines, a rule-breaker like a Renegade…
The title-track follows and sees things move in an even more colourful, vintage yet upbeat direction. The sound is immediately familiar now – Us3r leaves his mark quickly as a creative producer. Even that voice has some quickly recognizable qualities. Chemistry follows and provides the perfect blanket of synth-driven escapism. A melodic and simple song emerges, detailed story-telling helps hold your interest – however dark, the lyrics reach out to connect with those lesser spoken thoughts on life and the world. Today is a good day to die… The chemistry of me doesn’t wanna be alive…
As things progress, the arrangement offers a well-balanced series of moods. Forgotten Child takes the delicate road, heavy effects contrast with light layers of emotion that intensify slightly as the beat kicks in. Us3r pours even more of these profound and fascinating lyrics into the experience. Regeneration follows and kicks up a crisp EDM beat that quickly raises the pulse. Later on, Joy injects a definite level of character and makes for one of the most memorable moments; with a slightly Daft Punk inspired vibe.
During the latter half, User is a definite highlight for the space and the realness in that vocal tone. The concept is simple, appealing for its honesty and provocative at the same time. A personal favourite – great rhythm, interesting, offering a sense of calm but with casual movement; very easy to escape within. Starburst afterwards toys around with style and fuses a few different genres to create something again memorable and quite striking as it loops out and gathers energy and weight.
Searching is a brilliant dance track, one that walks the line between darkness and optimism – seeing the energy soar again but creating an uplifting wash of synths at the same time. Another highlight for its fullness and how effectively produced it has been. Partition afterwards leans in more of an industrial, spacious and artistic direction – hinting at something of a Depeche Mode influence but with the potential to unsettle or haunt. The switch to the hook sees joy overtake somewhat, it’s an interesting set-up – really creative and unpredictable.
At the penultimate moment, distant and drowning vocals lead the way to another full and vibrant piece of passionate dance music, with some great riffs towards the end. Then Walking With a Falling Sun brings things to a thoughtful finish and offers one of the most immersive and quite stunning moments yet. An absolute final highlight and a great way to go out – the chords and the riffs, the layers, the emotion in the vocals and the very concept – all of this appeals and sounds beautiful as it pours through. 1985 in full is everything its title promises, yet with plenty to surprise and refresh along the way. Well worth adding to the playlist.