Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
It’s interesting to review albums in reverse order of creation. It often gives insight into how an artist has developed in their craft. I reviewed Positronic’s latest album A New Life and now I’m tackling his first full album A New Day.
The same elements of his classic ‘80s Brit synth pop sounding vocals, intertwining lines of warm analog synth sound and propulsive beats are there. For a first effort, I feel the album is quite polished, but he has clearly come on in terms of his song writing since A New Day. It isn’t that the songs are at all bad on this album, it's simply that he has become more confident in his song writing voice since then.
One thing that’s still wonderful to hear is Positronic’s warm voice. It has a slight melancholy and a hint of something pained that made the best British synth pop vocals in the ‘80s work well. Even when his message is uplifting, his voice seems to act as a reminder that we shouldn’t take those bright moments for granted. He can use his voice to caress the ears but it can also climb and soar when that’s needed. I am definitely drawn in to hearing his singing.
The analog synths on A New Day run the gamut of sonic textures and feelings. Some are so full of swelling light and others have a more hollow, reverberant quality. There are arpeggios that dance through the music along with moments where the synths grow edgier and a little more shadowed. Each of these various sounds combine to produce a rich whole.
The lyrics certainly have touching moments in them, and overall, the writing is far from bad. I think that as a first effort the words do what they need to do on A New Day. As I said, what’s interesting is to look at how the writing stacks up on this first album versus A New Life. This album is expressive enough, but on A New Life the lyrics are stronger still. I do like the fact that Positronic has clearly made progress and it shows from one album to the next.
My Favorite Tracks Analyzed
Here is a look at my favourite tracks.
“A New Day"
“A New Day" opens on warm synth notes flowing into space with a slightly distorting oscillating secondary synth line that also moves with them. The solid beat that throbs into the track drives it on as Positronic’s warm and caressing voice touches the ears. I like the way the bass and drums support the other elements of this song while the swelling, flowing synth sounds wrap around the ears.
Hope and peace radiate from the lyrics of this song. There’s a sense of being free, outside the worries of day to day life that reflects in lines like, “Alone at last on this starry night, waiting for the break of a new day.”
There’s a sense of openness and timelessness in the words, “The seasons come and go. Our dreams we need to show. Just open your mind and let it all flow from within you."
Positronic reiterates this point and moves from simply stating “just open your mind” to saying, “Our dreams we’ll let them flow. As we open our minds to the break of a new day.” There’s a sense of hope and looking forward in how this is expressed.
High and singing synths with a flying arpeggio behind them open “Fly Away” on a positive note as that main lead synth melody sings over the bouncing, driving beat. Positronic’s voice is again warm and a little wistful with an ‘80s British synth pop tone and timbre. His voice can soar too as well as caress while those sparkling arpeggios fluttering continually around his vocals.
This is a song about a complicated and challenging relationship. The contrast is well expressed by the lyrics, “The last time I saw you. You were looking for a fight” which are juxtaposed with, “You’re holding your ground. This time I think I will have to stay. I’m empty without you. I’m blue when I think of you.”
There’s an ache in the words, “Here we go again. I don’t care where you’ve been. I hope I’ll catch you before you fly away” in which the narrator seems to fear imminent loss of this person for whom they care.
In spite of best intentions, there’s still a feeling of loss in the lyrics, “I want to keep you here with me. But you’ve got to go. Things to do, yeah this I know. I hope that I will find you again.”
There’s still hope as the lyrics say, “And I’m coming around for a night on the town. I hope I’ll see you before you fly away. I will catch you. I will try.”
“Higher Point of View”
“Higher Point of View” starts with tightly packed, oscillating and bouncing waves of synth that are soon joined by a synth with a chip-like sound and a vibrating quality to it as it moves into the track. Positronic’s warm vocals call out over that unique and energetic beat as synths spin through the music. All of the layers of synth sound build together, each element locking into the next to create a sonic tapestry. I like how he doubles his voice and the adds a synth melody for more support.
Sometimes in life we have to strive to see things from someone else’s point of view. In this song, Positronic contrasts the the line, “You say it's black. And I say it's white” indicating diametric opposition with another sentiment entirely as he sings, “We don’t see things the same way. But I hope to someday.”
The song’s chorus reinforces the idea of sharing perspectives in the words, “Oh, lift me up. I want to see things like you do. Oh, lift me up to a different point of view.”
The sense of a struggle for balance continues as the lyrics say, “Will we ever see eye to eye on anything in this life? I’d like to find a way.”
“You’re the One”
There is a tech-y quality to the synth that opens “You’re the One” along with the pulsing, moving beat. The next synth that comes in has a slightly nasal quality to it as rapid arpeggios spin and fly out while the drums establish their smooth beat. I enjoy the rippling arpeggios that flash through the music. The lead melody is gentle and reverberating and bouncing synths dance through as the beat keeps up the strong throb. There is an uplifting quality to this music that fits the message of the song.
Sometimes a good old-fashioned pop love song is just what we need as Positronic sings, “Falling head over heels. Not sure what to do. I need you. Miss you.” There’s sweetness in the words, “When I’m without you. All I do is think of you. The way you walk and the way you talk. You brighten my day.”
The chorus has the same sense of sweet caring as it says, “You’re the one. You are all I see. You’re the one. Only one. And my love you’ll always.”
Deep affection comes through in the lines, “Will I always fall this hard? When I am without you. I see you. I need you” and the song ends on, “Take my heart for you, it’s free.”
“To The Bone”
“To The Bone” starts off with quick spinning and somewhat minor sounding arpeggios. They rise and fall into the track, adding a more shadowed quality as the rapid throbbing drums hit. Positronic’s vocals kick in, rich and full over that edgy sharp synth and the higher pulses that move out into the music.A synth plays a sadness-touched melody as the there are elements with some distortion in them. There’s a little more melancholy in this music, but ultimately there message is still positive. Again all of the synth elements lock together tightly and provide a shifting, fluid backdrop to the music.
Both pain and hope fill the lyrics of this song. It opens as Positronic calls out, “I look to you for strength for that is what I need. You reach for me when you know I will concede.”
The sometimes harsh reality of life is reflected in the line, “Sometimes the world comes around and kicks you in the teeth” and the words are encouraging as they add, “We have to keep moving on and hope we’ll find relief.”
There’s a sort of Zen Buddhist feeling in the chorus as the lyrics say, “Let it go. Even though life cuts you to the bone. Let it be. Set it free. It doesn’t have to be easy.” In other words, accept the impermanence and harshness of life and just sit with it.
Hope shines through in the lines, “Here’s to hoping once we do peace will come at last. From this day forth I’ll never let you go down that lonely road just like so long ago” and again the song calls for acceptance in the end lines, “Every time we hold too tight we need to let it go. Every time we close our eyes then life begins to flow.”
“Lift Up My Soul”
I like the unique medium high synth that plays jumping, quick notes to open “Lift Up My Soul.” The synth with an open voiced quality is joined by a dancing beat that adds pulsating motion to the music as that synth flashes through, The music has a nice sensibility as those synths flow and flicker under the vocals as the message of moving on with life fills the song, even if there is still sadness.
The contrast between loneliness and a feeling of moving to better things is clear in this song. As it opens the lyrics say, “I’m on my own again. There’s no one around. No one to make a fuss. Or even make a sound.” There is deep loneliness in those words that only grows in the lines, “Only I remain now. Who will collect my tears?”
In the chorus, things change their feeling. Positronic sings, “It’s that time again. To lift up my soul. To face the day again. And to crawl out of my hole.” There’s defiance as he adds, “Yeah, it’s that time again. I won’t let you beat me. I won’t be tied down. And you will not defeat me.”
The sense of betrayal is sharp in the words, “So many times I wept over you. You have let me down, told me things that were untrue” but then the lyrics say, “Yeah, I will be just fine. There are dreams to catch. And fortunes to make mine.”
The song ends, “You won’t keep me down. I am on the rise.”
“Life Is Good”
“Life Is Good” has a deep wash of bass that moves into the music, rising and falling like water as gentle drifts of synth flow out through the music. A powerful beat moves into the music with an almost African feeling to some of the drums as a snare drum hits. There are a lot of bright and airy elements to the music here that add the necessary feeling of uplift for the lyrics. There is a good combo of synth and organic sounds on this track.
Warmth and positive energy pours from the words of this song as Positronic sings, “When I look around all I see is heaven looking down smiling at me. On a day like this, it is so good.” The next lines add to this feeling in the words, "I’m longing for you like you knew I would. This is my time. This is my day. The darkness behind me all the way.”
The chorus simply calls out that “life is good” and in the next verse Positronic adds, “It doesn’t mean there’s nothing to face, but I will get through with a little grace” and he doubles down as he sings, “When hard times come, they won’t last too long. And when its dark, I’ll be remembering this song.” Ultimately his message of fighting to stay positive reflects in the words, “You won’t get me down. You can’t keep me down. I won’t be kept down. You won’t see me frown.”
Positronic’s first album A New Day is a good start. I was glad to be given the chance to review it after reviewing his second album. It shows that while he established good musical bona fides on this first full album, the second built on that solid basis and grew to be even better.