NICE FACE: Horizon Fire: CD

Synth-driven punk slotted somewhere between Devo and Fast Forward, with varying results. I have to confess, it took repeated listens to slightly warm to this album. The majority of the songs lean toward the poppier side, and then there’s a slow, dancey type song like “Asymptotes II” that brings to mind Beautiful Skin and !!!. Songs like “You’re So Dramatic” have a snotty and hyper energy that is parallel to what is traditionally referred to as “KBD” punk, and it’s nice to hear this style executed in a less traditional manner. I find myself preferring the darker side on here, with the instrumental “March of the Cosmic Men,” the aforementioned “Asymptotes II,” and “Shaman” with its shimmery guitar and lurking rhythm. The one thing this album has a problem with is establishing a mood and keeping it. One moment it’s dark and sort of creepy, then suddenly it’s bright, loud, and poppy. Paced properly, such a style can be successful. But when it’s as manic as this, it’s kind of hard to fully get into and enjoy any nuances in the music.

 –M.Avrg (Hozac, hozacrecords.com)