NO WAVES: Good for Health, Bad for Education: LP

Feb 06, 2020

I’m slowly approaching maximum density when it comes to the genre of music that features electronic-sounding drums framing dark keyboard riffs droning over someone yelling blasé and often inaudible lyrics through effects. It’s not that I don’t like some of it, or that I don’t find any merit in it, but my problem is I just find so few watermarks by which to judge it. Grindcore went through a similar phase: if the drummer pulled it off, the rest of the band didn’t have to be that good. For my taste, Digital Leather is the pinnacle of this pseudo-retro style of electronic dance-dreariness. Besides doing it well, DL really capture something with their clever lyrics. I don’t know what the average retro-goth eating Cheetos on the couch after work on Friday night looks for in a record, but I don’t think it’s humor. That said, this No Waves album has been an enjoyable listen for me. But my level of enjoyment for this type of thing really lies in if or not I can tell one song from another. I don’t know what deep fans of this music look for, so it’s hard for me to judge. I’ll tell you where this album meets or exceeds my standards: 1) song pace varies occasionally, 2) the droning keyboard sound changes from time to time, 3) there is an occasional melody thrown in, 4) it sounds like it was recorded thirty years ago, 5) there is an early Depeche Mode danceability to a few of the songs. –Billups Allen (Phantom,