With his second album ‘Air’, Naytronix switches up hazy and fuzzy instrumentation and production for razor-sharp synth-pop… that you can only listen to through an audio kaleidoscope. Naytronix (Tune-Yards’ Nate Brenner) turns up every sound and beat so that it punches you rather than leading you towards something. It’s this urgency that makes it a superb album.
Opening tracks ‘I’m Becoming You’ and ‘Actor in My Favourite Show’ both have meandering bass funk melodies but the synths and beats smash through them. Its as if Beck made a baby with Toro y Moi and it had a penchant for mumblecore. Being catchy and moany at the same time is a difficult ask but somehow with the latter track, he manages it perfectly. Single ‘Come Back’ leans into his rhythms and vibes of Tune-Yards but it is very much its own sound. I think it shows how aligned both Nate and Merrill are with that project as you can feel the vibe but also get the freshness here. ‘Come Back’ is a summer bop in waiting for discovery.
‘Swallow The Moon’ is where the kaleidoscope feel I mentioned earlier starts to rise to the fore. The wilting guitars and synths swirl around the glitching percussive beats in perfect disarray. There is a David Bowie quality to it at times and an underlying mysterious fear. I think that comes from the lyrical worries of the world self-combusting. ‘Changing You’ pushes this apocalypse worry further with a superb track. The whole thing phases from ear to ear and feels like it is trying to retune your own frequency. It is clever not just in production but in time signature which takes a lot to track down!
‘Pattern’ and ‘Dead Bird’, whilst both lyrically dealing with innocence and perspective, are absolute bangers. The beats and unusual lyrical motifs play off against the raspy synths and hippy production beautifully. It’s like you’re visiting the 70’s funk era via a mid-2000 dance anthem. In contrast, the other three songs are slightly slower paced and focus more on the kaleidoscope funk side of the album. ‘Human’ and in particular ‘Movies’ remind me of some of the late Beatles vibes where they were being influenced by Eastern music in their rock. Here it is more around the tone and free nature of each track, particularly as ‘I Feel Strange’ owes more to 80’s new romantic music.
Naytronix continued to surprise me with each track throughout ‘Air’. There are plenty of summer anthems here to go nuts about but also a hidden layer of paranoia underneath. The swirling hedonism of the synths and beats mask the fear, worry and panic in Naytronix’ lyrics. You’ll be dancing and singing along to some of the most non-dancefloor lyrics for years but I think that’s part of the point – and part of its charm. This is an out of body experience for the Nihilist.
Recommended track: Come Back
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