I wish it were possible to review a record without being biased by scene drama, gossip and label stereotypes. Sound Virus is notorious for releasing what a lot of people call "pretentious artsy-for-the-sake-of-being artsy" bands. At first glance, the Cinema Eye totally fits this description. Combine that with one of the most hilarious and absurd press releases I've ever read, and I was prepared for the worst in the A Complete Arsenal EP.
Thirty seconds of A Comlete Arsenal proved me wrong. These guys have obviously done their research. Combining the best elements of synth-punk, '80s new wave and rock, the Cinema Eye's EP is one of the catchiest and solidest of the year. This is no easy feat, either. A genre like this has many imposters and so few true talents. Sorting through the trend and settling on the substance can be frustrating to say the least.
Opener "What You Die For" starts with synth squeak and squabble before launching into a dark and spooky stomp that builds up into an ultra-catchy hook. It's here that Mollie Wells' vocals really take form, like a more desperate Belinda Carlisle, yelping out each and every world like it's her last. The Cinema Eye has a great way of making four instruments sound completely epic at times, totally convincing the listener that there has to be a lot more people involved in this mess.
"Turn on the Battle Mode" continues placing great riffs and catchy hooks back to back. They really know where to place everything; it's obvious that songwriting for them is no joke. Each track is carefully orchestrated, making use of each instrument, each serving its own purpose rather than mimicking the others. "Seduce" is equal parts sexy and commanding, with Paul Rentler's guitar hook kicking the song into high gear.
The last two songs continue that formula, "Resist Reside" being my favorite of the five on the EP. It's full of energy and shows that Wells really can sing rather than just yell. It's good to see bands growing up and coming into their own, writing worthwhile music and hopefully getting some well-deserved recognition. This is what would happen if bands from the '80s sat down and wrote albums instead of singles: consistently good pop songs.
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