Unabated joy and delight from your Disco Gameboys Xyce
Xyce are my go-to duo for cheesy, deliriously happy chiptune music. The Dutch pair has continuously released some of my favourite collections of retro gaming inspired music, steering clear of gaming covers and just enjoying the huge slice of nostalgia and pizzazz the sound of a Gameboy, Atari, C64 or Amiga can bring.
Pop is no different. Across the 15 tracks, including one guest collaboration with Rymdkraft, you are treated to tightly woven melodies and bleeps of joy. What Xyce do with their music is not just grab some riffs and melodies and run with them, they craft each track like a pop anthem so the main synth becomes part vocal line/part sine wave melody. You have breakdowns, key changes – everything you’d expect from your Eurovision winner – just transferred into an 8-bit version of itself. When you’ve got bouncy happy tracks “Beaucoup”, “Guerre” or the breezy “Dix” bleeping away at you, you can’t help but smile and dance along to them – the joy is instilled in a pure joy into each sound – and it’s one of the reasons why I love chiptune music – the melody and emotion is often distilled down to its purest form and you can’t hide a poor song construction. It’s here where Pop as an album shines because each track is deceptively simple but if you listen to it properly, there is tons going on but it all meshes together expertly without you thinking about it.
Traditionally Xyce stick to a specific sound for their albums but towards the end of Pop, some tracks move away from their signature Gameboy style. “Ola” pushes out to aggressive glitchy garage-jungle beats and vocal loops, “Potate” feels like Xyce’s take on heavy trance and “Drone64” – obviously done on the C64 feels like it’s been ripped out of something from Contra Goes To The Disco. It’s nice to see Xyce branching out in styles and interestingly, these are the most darker and harder pulsing tracks on the album. I don’t expect them to burst into Blind or Toriena for example, but the switch of moods makes you appreciate the joy.
For fans of Xyce, you’ll lap this up and love their continuation to bring light to your day. For people wanting to dip into chiptune and have a party – this is one of the best places to start.
Recommended track: Yogourt
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