Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
A Synthpop Album for the Singer Songwriter
Clones is a synthpop album that tells stories of loss, distance, love, and yearning. Unlike some albums where the most important element is strictly the instrumental side of things, Clones puts the singer/songwriter Justin L. Fraser front and centre. This is a good thing because the combination of his well-written lyrics and his outstanding voice is worthy of being showcased.
Justin L. Fraser's Voice and Lyricism
Fraser is a singer whose voice soars and shakes, tingles and slaps. It’s full of emotion and depth. Sometimes it half-breaks and other times slices like jagged glass. The contrasts of nostalgic memory and the sense of loss that pervades the album is served well by how he expresses those sensations in his singing.
All of Fraser’s words are clearly enunciated to deliver their point. There’s no muddy mumbling for him which is something which I appreciate, given that in some genres of pop music, it seems to be the trend for singers to mumble.
Michal Travnicek’s synthesizer work is carefully considered to support Justin Fraser’s voice which takes centre stage as it weaves in and out of the floating synth melodies, warm and wavering, the arps that ripple underneath his powerful voice carry it higher, and when the bass rumbles through and the drums kick in, they never overwhelm or overshadow it.
Examining Relationships and Human Connection
Clones is an album that muses both on the current difficult state of the world and examines the sometimes fraught nature of relationships and human connections. Justin Fraser is a lyricist who can move between the realms of emotional heartache and the struggles to comprehend what’s happening in society.
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All of the songs have a powerful emotional effect, but to me the album is most effective on the tracks where the singer’s vocal performance, the message of the lyrics and the tone of the music behind it all combine to deliver a very effective gut punch of emotion.
Next, I’ll talk about the tracks that most stood out for me on the album and why they I felt they were so effective.
All Things Must Have Their End really did hit me with that emotional gut punch. It starts with a simple piano line and Fraser’s powerful voice soaring over it and slowly the synthesizers, bass and drums come in to lift the song as it rises to a conclusion.. As Fraser sings, “All things must have their end/To blow out and bury in sands of time” the music behind those words drives home their poignancy.
Messiah is a song that speaks of change and the need to deal with the world as it falls apart. It’s a call to unite rather than divide,wn. The musical underpinning of the song is surprisingly bright and warm, although the bass that rumbles under all reminds us that something more dangerous is always underneath it all.
Another song that struck me both with its emotional intensity and musical qualities was The Burning. It starts with what I would describe as swirling synth patterns that resolve over a steady beat and then dance lightly between the beats. Justin Fraser sings about a complex relationship and the contradictions that it poses. I especially liked the lyric, “We should not reignite/The feelings should have now dissolved/This danger and its flight/ Will burn us to the very ground.”
Give Clones a Listen
To sum up, I feel that Clones is an excellent showcase for both Justin Fraser’s tremendous voice and Michal Travnicek’s synth work as well as the other band members who provide a solid backing. I should also note that the band’s guitarist and bass player Jeffery Dauphin should be commended for his excellent work as it adds depth to the overall sound that Pink Lemon has created.
As a whole, Clones is a fine showcase of what high-quality songwriting and powerful singing can deliver when coupled with thoughtfully composed backing music.