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First impressions: Studio Killers – Studio Killers

07/07/2013

studiokillers2013

Who could have ever thought back in the late 90s when The Crash first appeared in the scene with their almost twee, sugar-sweet sentimental mock-Britpop hits that the lead figure Teemu Brunila would become what he is today? Over the years with The Crash he mastered his craft – how to write the perfect pop melody, how to create a quirky lyric both ingenius and eccentric in nature that displays old subjects in new ways, and how to master the delivery of his highly recognisable syrup-sunken voice. When The Crash bowed down and its members seemingly disappeared without a trace, Brunila took what he had learned and used it to reign the Finnish radiowaves from the shadows as a songwriter-for-hire responsible for so many hits of such different types that you could have never assumed they were from the same person. And now, he’s the frontwoman of a Gorillaz-esque ‘virtual band’ where he takes on the role of a Betty Boop -style sex kitten who’s equal parts heartbreak and lust, swinging around his mighty falsetto like a weapon. Who could have thought?

Oh, and the other two members are a painfully cool fox and a blue disco mink. This alone makes Studio Killers an incredible act.

The number one thing with Studio Killers’ eponymous debut is that it’s not a project defined by a fun novelty gimmick and the actual material only bears a song or two worth of material. No matter the roles its creators play, this is a very serious project that’s been the focus of many work hours borne out of love for what they’re doing. There’s not a single throwaway element to it and within the quirky, fun songs are some genuinely engaging and even emotional moments that at first seem out of place coming from a ‘group’ like this. There is a great big heart beating within the neon light body of Studio Killers, a soul that makes it fun pop music that makes you want to give a damn about it

That’s where the number two thing about the album comes into play: Studio Killers’ debut (my god I hope it’s a debut rather than simply one random release) is actually one of the year’s best releases so far. Combine its creators’ skill for a killer hook with clever, detailed state-of-the-art production and give Brunila a playground to fully have fun with his lyrics and voice, and you get the wild, fun concoction that the album is. It tackles familiar pop music tropes, twists them to fit in its own world view and delivers an impressively joyful and genuinely inspired bundle of music. There’s more thought involved in one of these songs than countless others of their peers: tracks like “Ode to the Bouncer”, “Eros and Apollo” and “Jenny” nail down everything that is great about pop music and represent it with a brand new coat of paint to boot, while e.g. “Funky at Heart” takes the modern Guetta-esque anthem choruses and makes them sound relevant once more. The more introspective moments actually sound impactful and emotional, much thanks to Brunila’s lyrical pen that can sum up some very serious, evocative thoughts with a couple of lines even in a brightly coloured cartoon album: “Who Is in Your Heart Now” and “When We Were Lovers” are in fact some of the highlights of the album, rather than the token filler tracks like most attempts at serious moments in pop albums. Only “In Tokyo” seems a bit more throwaway than the others thanks to its clichéd subject matter and somewhat less inspired songwriting, but even it makes up for its flaws with its brilliant productional touches.

Much like Gorillaz gave Damon Albarn a playground to let loose in an entirely new environment, Studio Killers does the same for everyone involved. Brunila most obviously, considering he’s the most central part of it (not to mention the only one who’s recognisable from the sound alone), but also for Goldie Foxx and Dyna Mink (or their producer alter egos, but quite frankly it’s already a bit annoying I can’t disassociate Brunila from this so I’d rather just keep the rest 2/3 of the band as who they are meant to be). It sounds like an escapism album, a zone where they’re free to endulge in any whim they want and create anything in their hearts’ desires. Because of that, it’s an album that radiates joy, freedom and fun – immaculately joyous and utterly irresistable from the first listen. It’s already the album of this summer and if it keeps its strength up as time goes on, we could be talking about one of the year’s top releases.

And it has a fox in the lineup.

Ode to the Bouncer

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