Long ago, more years than I care to acknowledge, I went to see a show at the Maintenance Shop. I don’t even remember what show it was, to be honest, but I recall that Keepers of the Carpet were the opening band, and I was struck by how damn poppy, happy, and upbeat they were. This was when most of what was left on the radio that sounded like “rock” was all serious (borderline whiny) grunge, and it seemed almost punk rock to just play happy songs. This was the first time I became acquainted with Jordan Mayland, the driving force behind the band. Since that time it seems like Mr. Mayland has formed a hundred different side projects within which to hatch his fevered imagination. Besides Keepers, there’s Volcano Boys, Nuclear Rodeo, The Thermal Detonators, and Electronidoll. Since I last checked, there may be a few more. Who knows? The point being, the dude is prolific. And a staple in the Ames music scene.
Electronidoll has just released a four-song EP called Des Moines. It’s a layered synth-pop record, with some groovy rhythms, well arranged layers, and, above all else, a focus on melody. No surprise there – if I had to guess, I’d say Mayland is a melody junkie. This is okay, of course – people like Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson are also melody junkies, and sometimes people still listen to their stuff, too.
Des Moines kicks off with opener “No Doubt About It.” The beat production, synth bleeps, and telegraph guitar lines of the tune create an urgency that gets the toe tappin’ and leads you willingly to the spaced-out bridge. It’s danceable but would appeal to the sunshine pop crowd as well. The purposefully cheesy organ and kid-choir vocals of “We’ll Take It Slowly” walk you through a crafted, catchy, summery anthem. Ululating vocals and “ooos” punctuate bittersweet lyrics until the rising drum fury of the bridge that culminates in synths colliding with vocals before abruptly ending. The song “College 2” features a spooky synth vocoder, a circular chord progression, and more of a laid-back feel. It’s still steeped in melody, but with dashes of experimentalism. The final track, “Canon,” takes its inspiration from the well-trod ground of Pachelbel but finds some new life in it by incorporating a reggae dubstep beat with lo-fi gritty vocals and grungy bass.
It sounds like Electronidoll has had a lot of fun in the studio making this EP, and that they have a strong voice and purpose already. It’ll be interesting to hear where they go next.