Urban Cone aren’t exactly mainstream internationally, but they’re slowly making a name for themselves. Between reaching number 2 on Hype Machine with their debut single Urban Photograph around the release of their first album and collaborating with Porter Robinson for his debut album last year, their portfolio is slowly growing. After recently adding a collaboration with Tove Lo to the list, Urban Cone have released their second album, Polaroid Memories.
As an album, Polaroid Memories expands on the sound of songs like Urban Photograph, often making use of 8-bit style synths mixed with a sound that sits between synth-pop and indie rock, which has been amped up for this release. The way the album starts with Weekends makes it sound like something from Passion Pit, using a similar chipmunk style of pitched vocal with ambient effects around it as an intro, though this is quickly traded in for a sound that’s heavy on the indie rock side instead.
This comparison only becomes more relevant later on, with We Are Skeletons sounding even more like Passion Pit, though with a distinct Urban Cone flair to it. These are the songs that stand out the most, though there are some variations for the rest of the album. The second half is made up of mid-tempo songs focusing on the synth-pop/indie rock mixture, sometimes with pitched vocals and sometimes without, which makes for a much more sombre experience than the earlier half of the album.
They’re so rampant on this half of the album that only two songs break the mould. These come in the form of Sadness, a surprisingly upbeat song that still retains elements of the less engaging songs on the second half but uses them differently, and Never Gonna See You Again, which retains the mid-tempo pace but focuses solely on the indie rock side of Urban Cone’s music, with some piano solos thrown in for good measure. They help to keep the album from falling into a complete slump, though don’t really manage to bring it back to the level of the earlier songs.
But overall it manages to remain interesting and doesn’t feature any songs that instantly leave a bad impression. It’s a good example of sticking to one sound and doing it right. A few less mid-tempo songs might have helped to improve the impression the album itself leaves, but overall Polaroid Memories is a strong follow-up.