"The Sea of Unspoken Words" (Album, 2013)
Available through all the familiar digital outlets as the saying goes, Modovar's début LP may be self-released, but that shouldn't be taken as a slight on the quality of its content. Saying they stem from the Erasure camp (no pun intended!) of synthpop duos wherein one chap, a certain Glen Wisbey, writes and performs the music and the other, Mr. Christopher Beecham, the lyrics and vocals, is a useful starting point; however Modovar's range goes beyond the obvious attractiveness of their higher BPM pop songs. Indeed, where The Sea of Unspoken Words truly comes into its own is on the more downtempo tracks.
The ten songs here were approached with some semblance of a story arc (if not full blown concept) meaning that, as the title suggests, this is a collection of episodes from a life detailing the undercurrents of love and loss, but ultimately always hold hope. This idea is perfectly represented in the cover art - a monochrome photograph of the sun's rays piercing through dark clouds over a now calm sea. The writing reaches its most epic on Save the Day which hints at incidental (rather than bombastic) James Bond film soundtrack territory. Whilst the higher paced songs, like the catchy and well-placed opener Clearly, the band's first single last year, do their thing with a solid professionalism, it's the slower, slightly more melancholic songs where the duo's combined writing skills are best showcased.
Third track This Moment (Hold On) begins this other side of the album and although it tempers the soaring reaches of Beecham's falsetto voice, suits him just as well. It also means Wisbey is given a more expansive platform to demonstrate that he is equally at home, perhaps even better at, composing slower pieces where the backing tracks of sustained strings, and some sumptuous chord progressions create a deeper emotional engagement. This tone continues on The Lies We Tell Ourselves For Love, whilst Where There's Life straddles the two house styles, it's slow but the chorus still affords Beecham the opportunity to reach for the stars a little more – a lovely combination that recalls Erasure's more restrained and reflective moments of their own debut Wonderland. Having mainly heard Modovar live so far where they concentrate on the more up-tempo songs, this more balanced suite offers more riches than I anticipated. A first album to be proud of. 7/10
Rob Dyer (May 2013)
"The Covers EP" (EP, 2012)
are Glen Wisbey, Christopher Beecham and Chris Taubert from Essex in
England. Essex - the spawning ground for some of the seminal electronic
bands from the 1980s, including a certain Depeche
Yazoo, and Nitzer Ebb
to name but three. And it is with those acts who
created their sound in the electro/synthpop sphere that Modovar share
much DNA. That's all fine and potentially bodes well.
It then takes some balls, ego or deluded foolishness to make your debut release a three-track EP of covers of Yazoo and Roxy Music. The songs are Situation, Same Old Scene and Midnight. Skeptics probably think they'd have a field day ripping this apart. And that's where they'd be well and truly wrong. 'Cause Modovar have the balls, and they can back it up.
Accepting that a good deal of the outcome of the finished article lies in the quality of the source material, that still leaves plenty of scope for an ill-advised screw-up of monumental proportions. However, not only does this demonstrate a respectful homage to all three songs, but actually makes for a very smart, attention-grabbing calling card. All three closely mirror their respective Yazoo and Roxy Music originals, utilising divergent yet appropriate sounds, respectable production values and featuring Beecham's strikingly soulful (and borderline androgynous) voice. No-one listening to this who likes what they hear will be able to contain their anticipation for Modovar's debut album The Sea Of Unspoken Words due later this year. What's more, it's free to download from the band's website. 7/10
Rob Dyer (March 2012)
Official Modovar website: www.modovar.com