There's a pretty thin line between successful throwback style and being a total hack. Synth, reverb and a drum machine are nearly staples for indie bands today, leaving many struggling to find their voice amidst played-out, predictable hooks and arrangements.
Louisiana trio Kindest Lines are able to use these '80s redux tools to do more than pay tribute to an era of music. Sure, innovation may not be their highest priority - but solid songwriting appears to be. With their debut LP Covered in Dust their talent is framed in crisp, dynamic production.
They play the soundtrack of an '80s nightclub, one complete with fog machines and lasers. This stuff is meant to make you move, at its darkest becoming an introverted dance party. Brittany Terry sings simple melodies over vintage synth sound, leaving space for notes to reverberate over electronic percussion hits. Terry's voice avoids oversaturation of loops and effects; what is added brings warmth to the electronic hazy haze.
While far from perfect ("No Perfect Focus" is a tad homogenous), the trio manages to pull off a strong debut. Their layers of keyboard and guitar over steady drum loops build beautiful, at times melancholic, ambiances for the dance floor. With reverb, clapper hits and a pretty voice it will be interesting to see where this foundation will take them.
Strange Birds [audio http://killerbabytomatoes.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/04-strange-birds.mp3]