EP REVIEW: The Shapes by Miami Horror

Melbourne’s Miami Horror have been selling their slick and fashionable “indietronica” since the release of their 2010 debut Illumination, a staple in modern electronic pop. Their second record, 2015’s All Possible Futures, was more mellow and meditative, demonstrating a refreshing new color in the group’s sonic palette. Their latest EP, titled The Shapes, is a more playful effort, adorned with assorted 80’s pop elements and funk flair.

Opening track Sign of the Times follows their usual mid-tempo electronic groove formula. It hits all the marks for what you would expect of them. Rhythmic synths and guitars, layered harmonies, and lyrics about being young, “sex, pills, material things; I just can’t tell if it’s joy that they bring.” It cycles through one guitar riff, and at over 4 and half minutes, may wear off some listeners’ patience. Still, it’s an honest and harmless track, perfect for a sunny day by the beach, or a trendy fashion ad.

Next comes the awkward Trapeze. Something went awfully wrong in the composition and production of this song. The repetitive keyboards from the intro are unflattering, and the lackluster guitar strums leave this one with an vague and uninteresting sound. The vocals are placed at the forefront, but the melodies in this song just are not interesting enough to entertain or even capture ones attention.

Leila, another standard Miami Horror track, is far more captivating and immediate. It’s groovy bridge and seductive samples of female voices, make this another stylish and seductive success for the band. In Azimba, they aim for an ambiguous tropical African sound, which is both corny and confusing, this being the only track on the EP that takes that direction. With the clichéd chanting at the intro and the miniature marimba solo at the bridge, this one just sounds like the soundtrack for a kids’ movie set in a jungle. Sorry, guys. Dark Love, however, the EP’s closer, is a glossy electronic number, which once again hits all the marks in what Miami Horror does best. Even the lyrics are very representative of the group’s aesthetic: “dancing”, “moonlight”, “footsteps” and “take me to the places you’re dreaming of”.

At its strongest moments, this EP gracefully interprets some of the funkier moments from the 80’s. This comes as a strong departure from their sophomore album All Possible Futures. Despite its couple of unsettling moments, Miami Horror has delivered a tasteful EP that appropriate captures their brand of electronic dance pop.

You can stream the entire EP here.

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