If you’ve listened to Synth-pop artist Karl Kling here in Australia, like me, it’s most likely as that featured player from the RAC album Strangers. You would be forgiven for that one. Karl is not big by any means, not yet. But as usual, that’s what makes his self-titled debut album so exciting. It was released earlier this month and going off the kind of influences he’s been hanging around, I couldn’t wait to wrap my ears around it.
The intro track “Figurehead” is a slow dance of space-like synth pop. One that builds and builds but never seems to reach the top. Not that it’s bad. It just has the promise of an anthem but instead glides along in a monotone and safe fashion. “I Will Wait” is where it picks up with impressive originality. It just stinks of RAC and that’s an unreal compliment for any musician. It was the first single he released from the album and it’s a humble, fun and slithery number that slinks along with confidence. All the while digi-pop hooks will keep your finger firmly set on that repeat button.
The second single to be released, “Careful” is a happy turn from the cold tones of the first few tracks. It still has a sadness about it but bops along with aggressive enthusiasm nevertheless. It’s a welcome turn into the dancier style of electro I hoped from this album. It’s followed by “All I Want More Than Anything”, a track that could have been straight from the early nineties. A golden tune that’s easily one of the more catchier on the album. Karl Kling finds the sort of Motion City Soundtrack pop vibe in his synth solos and vocal melodies that will put a smile on your face for days.
“The Struggle” is a nice multi-layered and moody track that plugs along pretty casually and seems performed in a real natural style. You could imagine this as a bedroom recording project, with Karl Kling casually strumming along as he contemplates the narrative in the song. It’s here that you kind of realise how authentic this album is. It’s a guy giving his all, from top to bottom. The song “When I See You Again” has this weird garage rock sound to it that is immediately noticeable following the other tracks on the album. It’s a tonne faster than the others and feels liberating from a listeners perspective. Bold and speedy.
“Job Well Done” is a cracking tune. It’s very eighties with talkative verses and group vocals backing him up and choruses with a crap-load of effect pulsing their way to some decent vocal hooks. The outro track “Life On The Run” is another great, memorable track that places its footsteps in the wake of bands like Stepdad and Architecture In Helsinki who have been putting together really fun electronic music for years now.
In the end, Karl Kling bursts out of the shadows of being a featuring artist (in my eyes) and into his very own spot on the path to synth-pop royalty. His unique style of moodier, new season electronic music is a welcome change from the party hard vibe I’ve been getting used to from a lot of artists. Although I found some of the tracks dragged on towards the end, there are some solid tunes streaked throughout the album and it’s well worth a spot in your next backyard party playlist.