Release Date: 27th October 2017 (Too Sweet Records)
1) The Predator
2) The Gavel
3) Expensive Stopwatch
4) Ten Speeds
5) Dream Team
6) Holding Hands
8) Let Me Be Your Robot
9) Teenage Alien
10) Bad Shot
Superdivorce have changed a hell of a lot over the last year or so. Comparing their first album (2016's aggressive 'Wish Ya The Best') with their second ('Action Figures') they are barely recognisable as the same band.
Admittedly, they have slimmed down a little. Three of the four members of Ohio-based parent-band 'Sleep Star Ignition' founded Superdivorce (a name which was supposed to be temporary but eventually stuck) in 2015, but were unfortunately hit with 'a hefty dose of band-related turmoil' after releasing just one album. This left current members Nicholas Villars and Zachary Bender unsure of what to do next with their intriguingly-named outfit.
Fortunately for electronic music fans, they decided to change direction completely, turning their attention away from their rock roots and turning it towards the music they themselves love to listen to- synth pop and new wave.
The undeniably electronic sound of 'Action Figures' therefore, is something of an experiment- and in the most endearing of ways, sounds like it too. It's a self-described 'synth pop' adventure (for both the audience and the band themselves, one assumes) comparable, in a way, to the storyline of 1985 teen sci-fi film 'Weird Science'; two kids experimenting in their bedroom, beavering away to create something that satisfies their cravings. Whatever they may be.
Also in a similar fashion to 'Weird Science', 'Action Figures' is not something from which you should expect anything too capricious; the majority of the songs on 'Action Figures' are in a fairly similar vein. Futuristic lyrics ask questions like 'what's up with the style of your hair?' and then answer themselves with 'you look like an alien child', whilst retro keyboard hooks evoke thoughts of robots ('Let Me Be Your Robot'), monsters ('Expensive Stopwatch') and even aliens ('Teenage Alien'). Although none of these things create any particularly poignant moments, the tracks are great fun to be an audience to once they get into their stride (again, like the film).
That is not to say, however, that Superdivorce have been afraid to play around with a few different genres on this album; it would hardly be an 'experiment' if that was the case, after all.
The gutsy synth funk of opening (and most superior) track 'The Predator' is a completely different beast to the dark, slow-burning 'Dream Team', for example- the latter showing that, whilst Superdivorce have drastically altered their sound since their first album, they have not discarded their rock tendencies completely. Echoes of their previous incarnation also creep in on tracks like 'Strawmen' - a dramatic horror story of sorts- and 'Ten Speeds'- a dangerous, perhaps purposeful verge into near chaos, making 'Action Figures' rawer than the generic electronic album.
Closing track 'Bad Shot' is also worth noting, in particular for how it seems to merge all of Superdivorce's primary influences into one song. The simplistic melody shows hints of early Depeche Mode, the manic backing vocals sound uncannily like Talking Heads' David Byrne, and the infectious chorus ('I've been a really bad shot but I trained up/I kept missing my mark but I made up!') sounds like it could have been plucked straight from the depths of Wham!'s back catalogue. It is a perfect parting 'shot'- the complete opposite of what its title suggests.
And whilst this album as a whole is not perfect, in a way you don't want it to be. So many electronic albums nowadays are over-produced, so slick that the tracks all seem to slide into one. It is the little blemishes and near-runs into disarray on 'Action Figures' that make it what it is- funky, refreshing and unique.