What does Izioq sound like?
If the game Outrun was a Dreamwave album.
The review of Izioq – Teens Rising
Sometimes on Bandcamp, the way an artist tags their release can say a lot about its mood. Electronic artist Izioq bounces between synthwave, dreamwave, chillwave and a splash of chiptune as the French artist blurs different styles of synth together. In the tags of their new release ‘Teens Rising’ I saw the tag ‘Outrun’ – a seminal arcade racing game. Having listened to this EP twice over, it is the perfect tag.
‘Teens Rising’ from Izioq feels like how Outrun the arcade game would sound at sunset, cruising in the wind in 1986. Izioq describes the album as ‘simple, direct and pure’ and I agree. Each track is unburdened by complex melodies or layered production. Instead, they deliver riff after riff with a mature synthwave edge. Tracks like ‘Electric College’ flit from bouncy bleeps to more grizzly and slightly dissonant duelling basslines to emphasise their edge. The basslines are rubbery and thick. The drum loops are clear and crunchy. The melodies all have a slight sadness to them though.
‘High School Kick’ sounds like a big Soft Cell number given even more minor keys and a back alley noir vibe. ‘Memories’ gives a similar feel with its unsure chord progression that rocks between searching for something and not quite getting there. The arps are beautiful but missing that final major chord to land a cheesy circular melody so the memory feels tainted. ‘Unstoppable Force’ revels in its softer, sustained sine bell lead. The leading patterns remind me of Minute Taker’s 2022 album ‘Wolf Hours’ makes 80’s pop feel alternative. ‘Sentimental Dream’ is a stadium ambience effected power ballad of organs and MIDI rock drums, whilst the title track slowly meanders its way through a slowed-down anthem like its coming of age.
Whilst the EP is strictly mid-tempo and slightly suffers from that lack of energetic pitch shifting in places, Izioq nails the mood of a 14-year-old embracing a darker side of themselves and rising to a challenge too. It’s quite tricky to feel cinematic, playful and melancholic within the same song but most of the tracks here pull it off excellently. I think it’s because the production of each track leans into some vapourwave ideas but never brings them completely to the foreground of the production or mix. There’s a slight emptiness to it all that vapourwave does so well. ‘Teens Rising’ could have been a collection of uplifting joyous anthems but this feels grittier and more textured as a result. The melodies might be simple, direct and pure but they certainly stick with you long after the beat stops.
Recommended track: Unstoppable Force
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