Kristine - Kristine
New Retro Wave
80's style Rock
12 songs (56:00)
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

In the past five years a burgeoning new music genre emerged called synthwave. The "Synth" in synthwave being synthesizers, there were many albums produced that sounded like the forgotten soundtrack to your eighties youth. This style caught the ear of many people, including yours truly. It was while delving into this scene that I came across this small record by someone named Kristine. The stark black album cover with the blazing blue semi cursive signature caught my eye, and I decided to give this album a whirl. What greeted me was one of the most enjoyable listening experiences I have ever had, and I was introduced to an album that has been in constant rotation for going on two years now. Kristine has released an album that is the pure embodiment of glorious eighties rock.

This is an eighties rock album much in the vein of some of the best works of Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, Blondie, and solo Steve Perry. The only reason this is lumped in with synthwave is because Ms. Kristine uses keyboards like artists did in the eighties. Think Love Is A Battlefield, Heartbreaker, and Oh Sherrie. Maybe a little bit of Don Henley's Boys Of Summer in there too. Kristine is a producer at heart it seems, because she plays all the instruments on here. She also is in charge of all the vocals, all the layers, all the harmonies. And she does a great job at everything. There's a guest solo during Burning Heart, but other than that, it's her on everything else practically. As for the vocals, they are top shelf, full on pro, with many "rewind / listen again" spots. When your average bar band talks about how chicks have "better" range than dude singers, they think of high vocals and stuff like that. Again, Kristine can best be compared to the likes of Joan Jett and Benatar rather than say, Stevie Nicks or even someone current like Simone Simmons. So, utilizing her range expertly, Kristine has a sultry voice, a powerful voice, a laid back smooth jazz lounge voice, soaring vocals that would make those reality voice shows crap their pants, and tender gentle sections that provide warmth and yearning. She is authoritative, confident, commanding, inspiring, and vulnerable, and it's all on this record.

Modern Love begins the musical journey and sets the stage for what we're in store for. Almost immediately when the singing starts in we are treated to some excellent backing vocal work that shows Kristine's producer's ear is highly attuned. This begins as a synth led track with a simple bassline and the verses are delivered in a "longing" type of feel. However, this builds tremendously to the chorus where guitar chords start smashing in, licks start being peeled off, and Kristine goes into the next gear with her vocals and soars above all. Guitars come in very subdued like for the second chorus to add just a bit more dramatic tension. This is a terrific track and a great way to start the album. You can be forgiven if Tom Cruise is the first thing that pops in your head when you hear the next song, The Danger. Yes, the sound of a jet engine taking off is here so let's get that out of the way. With that in mind, this is another great uptempo track that gets the fist pumping. Keyboards are set more on a "quasar pulse" type of setting in the intro to set up an airy type feel. Vocals are again, tremendous and Kristine rocks with the best of them.

While these two songs can be stylistically expected from most folks heading in, there's also a couple that really show Kristine's different influences. The Rhythm Of Love is a very salsa oriented song and gives off a heavy Gloria Estefan vibe. If the guitars were 80's rock / metal in the past couple songs, here they are clean chording and latin flavored. An experimental song for sure, but also done so well it is a highlight. Again, these types of albums with all these different styles were actually common to eighties rock / pop artists back in the day. Especially on solo albums. Another atypical song is Everybody. Quite short, this is just pure infectious, joyous energy. Guitars are actually plentiful, but aren't standard power chords. This shows off Kristine's versatility as a guitar player as well. There's a crazy cool "barbershop quintet" acapella segment in The City that shouldn't fit but does (like OJ's glove), and is completely out of nowhere (like OJ in the bushes), and it works so well (like OJ when he...scored touchdowns)! Going back to more rocking songs, The Deepest Blue has some of the best drums on the album in terms of dramatic effect. This could be considered a sequel to Modern Love in that they have a similar vibe. But the biggest difference here is during the outro, that amazing delicious outro, where the drums have a POUNDING segment where they bash the bass drums in a "one tah-tay, two tah-tay" beat that adds so much drama. Go to the 3:00 mark to listen for yourself. Burning Fever is a power ballad about "making it" and has the longest and best solo on the album. I believe this song was used for the recent Cobra Kai series.

This is quite simply a wonderful fucking album. Everything about this is so well put together. You can tell that so much care was put into meticulously going over every detail. There is not a wasted drum fill, no grating vocal lines, no unnecessary guitar parts. For someone who shits their pants over speed metal and a million notes a minute, the guitar on this album is exactly what it should be. It rocks when it needs to, it holds back when required, and can be simple when necessitated by the needs of the song. Fans of eighties rock like Journey and the aforementioned Pat Benatar and Joan Jett would be into this.

Killing Songs :
The Danger, The Deepest Blue, Radio, Rhythm Of Love, The City
Ben quoted 91 / 100
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