Heavy Handed

Pixel Grip

Feeltrip Records, 2019

http://pixelgrip.bandcamp.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/03/2019

On their debut release, Chicago’s Pixel Grip uses heavy beats and dark synthesizers to make music that’s irresistibly catchy and defiantly edgy in the same way that iconic electronic acts like Depeche Mode and The Knife did. And just like the consistency of these aforesaid bands on their best work, Heavy Handed my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 is brilliant from start to finish.

Pixel Grip’s music has a lot of attitude, coming of course from the aggressive synthesizers and beats, but more importantly from lead vocalist Rita Lukea, whose singing takes on different personalities from song to song. Her animated vocals add unpredictability and craziness to the music, making it wildly entertaining.

The one major trait about this album that Lukea’s vocals suggest is that it is a pretty colorful and multi-dimensional record. It is indeed full of synth-based darkness, but it is not one of those brooding records that one might perceive albums of such kind to be.

There is quite a variety to be found here. “Soft Peaks” is a straight-up Euro discotheque number with shiny metallic synthesizers; it is all about sexiness and swagger displayed in plain sight, not hiding anything. In contrast, “Body Like That” is a quirky track that starts off all hushed and sheepish and gradually blossoms into a laidback indie pop cut with real studio drumming. But it is not without a sense of creepiness, looming like an unwanted shadow.

Between the two extremes are the song-pair “Twentyfour” and “Plastic Enemies.” The former is a sweet minimal track with no beats and synthesizer notes that are happy as sunshine. The latter is like a continuation of the former, featuring hefty beats that still maintain a sunny and friendly indie pop disposition.

This is not a record that relies solely on the heft of the synthesizers and the might of the drumbeat. In fact, Heavy Handed is personality first and music second, and its personality is captivating and vibrant!

Rating: A-

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