Imagine if the last few minutes of your life on a doomed Earth were spent dancing in a nightclub, as the sound of buzzing synthesisers whirred into a thick crescendo that battled the looming darkness outside. This is the atmosphere that Chicago three-piece The War on Peace have created on their newest EP, Automated People.
The band, who sound like the lovechild of The Fray and Editors, already have three EPs and an album to their name. Automated People offers a glimpse of lead singer and lyricist Steven Burkholder's penchant for forming an engrossing narrative delivered with commanding vocals.
Opener "Fear of Loss" sets the scene for a dystopian city where the world is crumbling to pieces, with cries of "And the Earth began to move/ And I knew that we were doomed" offering illumination among the grey skies the songs evokes. The prevailing sound of the drums reflects the urgency of people accepting their fate, while simultaneously steering clear of the cloying sentimentality that can be the downfall of songs of this ilk.
"The 80s" is a synth-heavy track that jumps between leaping with pulsing synths and lying static. "Armageddon Disco" is a rallying cry that sees Burkholder singing: "You better run/ As fast as you can" using vocals that flit between a Bon Iver-pitched falsetto and a commanding soprano.
The six-track EP ends on "Close Your Eyes", which sheds the weight of the dance-infused tracks that came before it. The final sound of the dissolving planet is more understated, using darker tones that veer into industrial territory. It's a slow burner, that's less rigid and a little less keen to please than the songs that precede it.
On this EP, The War on Peace sound like they're trying to strike a balance between paying homage to the more vintage-style synth sounds that influence them and the futuristic sensibilities that they propel their sound with. This makes the EP an unsteady but not unenjoyable listen. If the end of the world is measured by these buzzing, synth-pop songs it might not be so bad after all.
7.0 / 10
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