To tide us over until the 2015 release of their forthcoming third studio album, Arcadia, electro-pop duo Mackintosh Braun have gifted us with their EP titled The City Below. The Portland-based pair continue to bring a contemporary, sophisticated insight to the synth-laden sounds of 80s pop, and with the help of producer Lars Stalfors (The Mars Volta, Cold War Kids), have produced an immaculate release that is both crisp and affecting.
Title track, The City Below, is a romantic introduction to the atmospheric EP, blending captivating strings and synths, and sensitive singing with a distinct motif on the guitar that creates cohesion in the wistful track. There’s something very visual about the opener that takes the listener to wherever they want to cruise.
The duo bumps things up a notch with high-spirited anthem Never Give In. From its collective hollers and shouts, to handclapping and jubilant melodies, everything about Never Give In was made to share. The raucous chorus of voices, instruments and percussion at its closing perfectly captures its moral. The boys’ partiality to 80s pop shines most brightly in In Reverse. Expertly composed in highs and lows that fluctuate between percussion driven sections, and smooth soundscapes laden with peaceful ambience, the track exists somewhere between otherworldly David Bowie and the brooding, disco-inspired sound of Eurythmics.
The City Below comes to an end with the high-octane finale Outline, a flawlessly arranged track that accentuates Mackintosh Braun’s capacity for infectious, memorable pop song writing that is at once energetic and dreamy. The EP is comprised of music that is as much danceable and uplifting as it is relaxing, which is why it isn’t surprising that the pair can go from contributing to the soundtracks of feature films and television shows, to remixing jazz standards with ease.