Love turns Electrik at the Modern

by Bob Pember

On Thursday night, the record label Tremendous celebrated their newest addition, Love and Electrik, at the Modern in Gastown. The music was concise and well-aimed—it was clear what Kevin Mah and Roxy Aiston were after with their sound. What impacted me the most was that their music and the crowd that came with it brought me back into the early 80’s—and I was born in ‘85. There’s a formidable pan-80’s movement nesting within the denim vests, head bands and shoulder-lacking t-shirts worn by some of Vancouver’s downtown core; ensembles perfectly matching the Scarface-meets-Billie-Jean decor of the Modern.

There was a small but enthused crowd of roughly a hundred boppers ready for steady drum and synth samples underneath a smooth, haunted female vocal-line from Roxy Aiston which was paired with talk-box growls and key-tar solos from Kevin Mah. Their sound was tight and very true to an 80’s dance genre, but it didn’t seem very concerned with making any progress from that moment. I’m all for pointing towards the past in style, but like any reach backwards, it has to be brought up to speed if you’re at least going to attempt to create a new layer on top of past genres.

The music was great to dance to, but I kept getting the feeling that I’d heard it all before. The duo is more than capable of going further. Roxy’s melodies are proof that she has an ear for cohesion and timing—she has a sound that’s easy but not subtle. Mah is extremely adept at his vocal and synthesizer devices—seems to know them inside and out—so it would be great to hear him take them past the confines of “that 80’s sound” and into something more unique.

To be fair, I have to say I can’t fault them too much for staying the course with their throwback sounds. There’s a concerted effort these days to bring back more than just the music from two decades ago. Both the fashion and the decoration of the club matched the music—it was like being at a themed party having never gotten the instructions. Everyone there except me had been told to dress like your favourite part of the 1980’s. There were the girls who just wanted to have fun with t-shirts draped over one shoulder and there were guys in fluorescent headbands and aviators wanting to make sure you’re aware that they wear their sunglasses at night. The late-80’s were even represented with DJ Jazzy Jeff-style track suits and House Party haircuts. I understand that there’s always gonna be trends and I’m usually going to miss them completely, but I thought that I already missed this one. The show was entertaining and the crowd was serious about being a part of the proper 80’s setting, so while their music has potential to drive away from the past, I’m sure that Love and Electrik are comfortable for now starting out with this new label and a core of devoted fans.

Love and Electrik were presented by Ideal Friends and played at the Modern on August 13.

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