2020 Soundsystem are one of the rare electronic collectives brought together through live performance, and not forced into it via label demands, trending topics or prevailing zeitgeists. While that means said live performances are evolved, cohesive sessions, it's also a huge warning flag about any album that they might release, as it's traditionally very hard to capture a band's real life sonic punch in the studio.
But that's where Falling surprises: The album is decidedly mellow, with a composed character, despite it being played out by actual guitars, real drums and proper keys. Its subtlety, though, is why it wins: in humbly attempting to recreate a club set, rather than aiming for stadium-filling, whistle-blowing nonsense, the long, snaking grooves and spacious disco doses are allowed to run out in their own time. There's nothing too grand aimed for, so nothing falls short. These are melodic, disco licked house tracks layered with breathy—often rueful—vocals, but played live. Nothing more, nothing less.
From the percolating funk of "Psycho" (which wouldn't sound of place in a Dyed Soundorom set) to the woozy sounds of "Ocean," these tracks exude the sort of confident restraint which comes only with maturity. There's no need for epic highs, tumbling lows or obvious outpourings of emotion—the underlying suggestion is enough to keep you in, without ever letting you go. In fact, the most riotous rock moments come on opener "We Get Down," and even then it's a riff which I'm pretty sure is, shall we say, "influenced by" Rage Against the Machine's politically charged offering "Killing in the Name." Overall, though, this band just doesn't need that sort of thing to keep you entertained.
The squeak of fingers up fret board, the lightly feathered snares and palpable twangs of bass guitar are the subtle signs of men at work; they're a reminder that these songs aren't born from software, but from real world jamming, from trial and error. Speaking of which, this is indeed Falling, Mk. 2, a record made after the first version of the album was scrapped when it was decided bassist Fernando Pulichino would do all the vocals. The best results of drafting him in can be witnessed during "Falling," a deep space exploration on which Pulichino sounds resigned to the inevitable (whatever that may be) so meek are his lightly aspirated tones. It's an unlikely anthem but, going by recent live shows, an anthem nonetheless for 2020 fans and one which—with a gentle Mannheim re-rub—could become as ubiquitous as sibling track "Sliding Away."
If you aren't immediately switched on to 2020 after hearing this—if it seems a little pale, for instance—don't let that put you off the band entirely. Just experience them as they no doubt prefer: in a club, live.
Buy 2020 Soundsystem - Falling at
Tracklist: 2020 Soundsystem - Falling 01. We Get Down
02. Every Time
03. Sliding Away
06. Dark Matters
12. Way Of Life
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