Christchurch natives, now based in Wellington, Minderbender are a duo that clearly have a taste for post punk and electronic music in equal quantities. Emotions is their debut album and it successfully embraces both organic and synthetic musical sounds and revels in their primitive and direct application.
The title of the album sums up its theme of twelve different human emotions from ‘Expectations’ through ‘Evasion’, ‘Euphoria’, ’Ambivalence’ and others before ending with the track ‘Acquiescence’. The band have commented that the emotions are presented as those experienced in the context of one night out, a detail that many people wouldn’t pick up on cursory listens. That said there is a indeed a strong connection between the moods presented in the music and lyrics and the songs’ titles. A drum machine provides the heartbeat and spine to the songs with its pounding basic patterns beneath synth leads and pads that sparkle and swirl when required. The bass lines are the blood of most of the songs. They’re physical, sometimes bruising and always alive, giving the music a stone-age glam and dark disco vibe on ‘Expectations’ and ‘Amnesia’. The flip side is the still dirty yet sonically more placid tones of ‘Stimulation’ and ‘Euphoria’ that to a small extent balance out the noise and which could have been explored more across the album.
There is much to like on Emotions. Its restlessness and creative velocity stand out as its strongest assets and they’ve corralled a diverse range of influences (Liars, Joy Division New Order, Skeptics, Cabaret Voltaire, Bauhaus are strong candidates) yet some of the songs come across like collected ideas and riffs collated into tracks that end up sounding incomplete or undercooked. That aside, this is a bold, challenging and visceral album splicing together noise, rhythm and melody, often to great effect.
this review was first published on undertheradar.co.nz