When synth-pop wants to be a sad post-punk number instead.
Endearments is the first solo project from singer-songwriter Kevin Marksson in over a decade. Having been in synth-pop duo Saint Marilyn up until recently and having his marriage end in 2019, Endearments marks a start of something new whilst reflecting back on what had once been. As a result, it is happy-sad to the core and that balance is a huge boon.
Endearments manages to straddle sad synth-pop sounds with twinkling, full-bodied synths with a post-punk vibe. This punk vibe is driven by the retro basslines stolen from a late 80’s 4AD album and the occasional electric guitar flair. It gives the whole EP a grittier and sly aggression and dirty feel to it. On the fantastic opener ‘Ocean’ this duality is a joy to behold as the song runs the gambit of full synth runs and rocking basslines. Kevin’s voice fits a new romantic sound as it’s hushed and very smooth. The three elements combine to make Endearments sound both current and sort of retro too. ‘Delicate’ is the most overtly rocky track on the EP. It has a very 80’s jangle to its guitar that will give you nostalgic feels in a good way. Think Phil Collins with an emo edge and you are part way there. ‘Empress’ uses the sleek basslines along with bright keyboards and rolling tom drums for a huge chorus that explodes into life at every turn. ‘Hymnal’ pulls out a thick organ synth and a heavy drum loop to sound both devotional and depressed at the same time. Lyrically, the album focuses on love lost but also on moving on and healing from the wounds of the past. Yes, you’ll be a bit depressed but it’s not all doom and gloom either.
‘Father of Wands’ contains four earworms that I found myself really clicking with after three or four listens. This is a grower, not a shower although ‘Ocean’ is a post-punk anthem waiting to be discovered. Whilst the other tracks don’t quite hit that dramatic and explosive high, they showcase Endearments’ excellent songcraft and production strengths to give four very different songs that still sound connected. Energetic, interesting and suitably sad for hugs and clean slates, this is synth-pop for the sad and I’m here for it.
Recommended track: Ocean
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