Synthpop EP Review: Edges by Phoenix-Flare
Edges by Phoenix-Flare has elements that remind me of ‘80s British synth pop, EDM and chilled out ambient music, combined in a way that emphasizes their strong vocal performances and lyrically interesting songs.
One thing that struck me about the Edges EP was the sense of open space in the production. There was a quality of airiness to the sonic environment that gave the music a feeling of spaciousness and allowed all of the sounds room to breathe.
The vocals on Edges are sharp, clear and emotive. This delivery suits the lyrics which have depth and richness to them. They explore a wide range of emotional territory and the vocals help delineate and add strength to that territory.
As for the synths, they can glow and shimmer as well as cut into the music with more edge and bite. Most importantly, they never overwhelm the strength of this album which comes from the vocal melodies and the lyrical content. Instead they provide a sonic environment that allows the vocals to stand front and centre.
Track by Track Breakdown
“Edge of Change” has an interesting contrast of technological, very computerized sounds with more organic, warmer ones as it starts. The whole track has a flowing feeling to it underneath the the computerized sound. There’s a lot of flow to this track and that includes the singer’s expressive and very clear vocals. I also enjoyed the unique beat and the depth of the bass in the song.
The lyrics talk of struggling to help someone transcend the weight of their past and move forward. There’s a sense of deep caring in the lines, “Take my hand, I will lift you up. Take my word, I release you from all that’s gone before.” The feeling of struggle is expressed in the chorus, “Edge of change, you don’t want to dive in, I can’t stop the world from dragging you down, bring you back again to yourself.”
I enjoyed how hope returned in the next lines that say, “At this moment, we can make start. At this moment, I know what’s in your heart.”
The poppy, progressive synth melody in “Conjunction” drew me into the track along with the groovy bass and sparkles of chiming light. The vocal melody is well supported by the winding synths that double it and I found the whole song quite infectiously catchy.
This is a warning about where Western society is headed if we don’t alter course. The danger of too much consumption and being too immersed in social media is highlighted in the lines, “Everything you try, you want to buy. I see your life flashing before you like an endless stream, like someone’s dream.”
The chorus talks about the current paradigm in the words, “This thing’s got a life of its own, let go of all the truth that you’ve known. Give it up because it’s killing the earth, let it go ‘cause we know what its worth.”
The warning grows more stark in the words, “Stop this runaway train, things will never be the same. It’s like a tidal wave, there is nothing you can save” and the song ends on the caution that, “whatever you desire, you set it on fire.”
“Space Between Us” does indeed feel open and spacious courtesy of the warm, floating synth sounds and the general sense of airiness that surrounds those sounds. The vocals soar over the rapid beat as quick bursts of bouncing synth sound move behind it. The overall impression that I got from this song was one of ease.
This song is about opening up to love and life as reflected in the words, “Surrender the silence, feels so empty, fill this void. Make me new, space between us makes us feel alive” and that message is further reinforced by the lyrics, “Makes us feel alive, surrender the silence, surrender your heart.”
The vocals on "Sublimation" are brimming over with emotive strength. This is another track with a powerful sense of openness to it. There’s also a smoothness to it even as the synth growls and oscillates. The long passages and pulses of throbbing synth function as a means of supporting the vocals as they soar through the music.
This song is a message of hope against darkness and struggle. It starts out saying, “I don’t believe the sadness will last forever” and adds, “I know in time that you can be free.” The idea of time as a healer is reflected in the lines, “Whatever it takes, you will find forgiveness. You say your memories fade like broken fragments remade.”
The chorus talks about how our lives can be poisoned by negativity in the words, “When you only see the worst, you only see the least, you only rate the bad and not the good and all its worth” and adds, “I believe your history is always haunting you.”
The narrator says they “won’t give up the hope that you’ll find your answer” and adds that the hurt will eventually be left behind. I found the final verse of the song to be the most poignant in the words, “Love won’t stop the rain, love won’t break the storm but love can mend the brokenness and everything that’s wrong."
Phoenix-Flare has created music in Edges that is atmospheric, sometimes poppy (in a good way) and sometimes more flowing and ambient with strong vocal work and well-thought-out vocal melodies.