Neurodisc/Global Heist Recordings (label)
16 October 2020 (released)
30 November 2020
In music, there is usually a 15-20 year moratorium on a particular sound before it seeps its way back into the popular canon. A decade will discover a sound and the masses will be intrigued by this new wave coming from the underground. Then, the pop machine will refine and distill it and sell millions of records with it. Once it's permeated the mainstream, the decline begins. To borrow an expression from Yoko Ono, “as soon as it hits #1, it's old hat”. For a decade or so after that, the style is tarnished and ridiculed, relegated to the dustbin of history.....or so it seems. Given the perfect incubation period, those teens that bought all those records turn 30 and start to remember the soundtrack to their glory days. It begins with an ironic nod and smirk. Can you believe we used to dress like that and listen to this shit? By then the claws are already dug in. Newer bands rediscover the sounds and instruments of that time period and are hailed as geniuses for reviving a forgotten Golden Era. This phenomenon is not exclusive to music, it permeates fashion, movies, and other cultural niches. Some artists merely take an iconic sound, say a certain synthesizer patch, and play it over their contemporary music to harness the addictive power of the “retro sound”. However, some bands embody the feel of a decade through and through. Beyond the sounds they employ, the way they use their instruments, write their lyrics, and carry themselves is 100%, that era.
The international, semi-anonymous trio of artists that make up Head Fake definitely fall in the latter category. The group writes and records across the globe but unites on a sound bred of early analog synthesizers, fizzy drum machine beats, and the deep baritone crooning of a certain kind of emotional lyrics that were a staple of the 1980s. Producer “Ivan” is a long-time industry professional based in Miami, Vocalist/composer/bassist “James” is based in London and Canadian-born multi-instrumentalist and composer “Michael” is based in New Jersey. From studios across the pond, the group has put together a record wholly entrenched in the '80s sound. Joy Division, Bauhaus, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Roxy Music, Modern English all stirred into the pot to cook up a sound that worships the decade.
Steady kick and a tingle up your spine electric piano bring an INXS style groove to the opener 'Hollywood Dreams'. Double tracked unison vocals sit on a bed of humming synth pads, bending to a classic blues I-IV-V structure. Neon skylines and L.A. debutantes colour this homage to the great American playland of southern California.
The Gary Numan synths come hot out of the gates on the album standout 'You Could Come Around'. Warm arpeggiated acoustic guitar is juxtaposed with mechanical bass pops. Tubular synth boops give a tropical feel to the atmosphere which is held down by the galloping, staple synthpop drums. The majestically mopey lyrics suggest another chance for romance, even if it has no future. This track would feel right at home with all the hits of the day. You can envision American Psycho's Patrick Bateman doing lines of coke in a nightclub bathroom while poofy haired goths move their way through the bar with the detached malaise of a zombified generation. A sure-fire hit in 1987 and a mainline dose of nostalgic bliss for lovers of the bygone decade.
'All I Carry's bubbling synths underscore the gospel-inspired tune which employs a style that Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan used with great success. 'We Are Stars' exhibits a Victorian sway as if an English court soiree was scored by Tangerine Dream. The closer and lead single 'JFK' is the most “out of the box” track on the record. A pastiche of big bombastic drums, electric guitars, organ, and bongos. All this is interjected by speech excerpts and rally cries. Head Fake canonize the former president with a tongue-in-cheek celebration.
Head Fake's EP3 is an expertly produced loving and unashamed throwback record to the Reagan years. The group not only fully embraces the sounds of the era but the themes, language, and ethos of the period as well. Perfectly crafted for those who can't get enough of the “No Nukes” decade and a thorough lesson for those who never lived through it.