Synth EP Review: "Unbreakable" by Level 86 (feat. The Mercury Sisters)
Unbreakable, Level 86’s latest EP, is an interesting recording featuring the beautiful harmonic and melodic intertwining of The Mercury Sisters’ voices and a strongly nostalgic ‘80s feeling that Level 86 hits right on the head. All of the songs have a common theme that is subtly varied with different lead synth melodies and classic ‘80s love ballad lyrics. I view this EP as one continuous song with different “movements” to it.
The first thing that cements the retro feeling of Unbreakable is The Mercury Sisters’ vocals. They have a wonderful ability to blend their voices here and produce vocals that are warm and deeply nostalgic. Even singly, their voices are excellent, but in combination they produce gorgeous harmonies and melodies that elevate the music.
The way in which the lyrics continue one from the other adds to the feeling that this EP is one cohesive work with different sections. They are thematically similar in nature but are divided into parts. They generally have an upbeat and energizing feeling to them, full of dreams and hopes and wishes coming true or about to come true. It’s a fun way to approach an EP and I think it works.
Level 86 has chosen great synths for this music. They all share that warm analog sound and produce tones that continue to build up the retro flavour in the music. On top of his synth choices, the melodies themselves are so shining and bright, gently glowing to lift the listener up and over the steady throb of the drums.
Production-wise, Unbreakable continues to nail that ‘80s sound so well. The overall sound of the tracks just takes me into retro synth territory and keeps me there. His production of the vocal parts makes me think that I could be listening to a synthpop tape from 1986 and I mean that in a completely positive way.
I’m quite interested by the approach that Level 86 took with Unbreakable. It’s a unique concept that worked for me. Sometimes just taking a step outside of the norm results in something that makes me sit up and take notice. I think that Level 86 and The Mercury Sisters did that well on this EP.