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Review: Satchmode crafts 80s synth pop dream on 'Love HZ'

The rising band spins grief into catchy dream pop.

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A few weeks ago, Satchmode came into the Popdust offices to preview their new record, Love Hz. Yesterday, the band released the record itself, and let's just say it was absolutely worth the wait. Love Hz is an honest, danceable exploration of heartbreak. Sonically, the album is strung together with 80s-style synthesizer and a style that owes as much to the moody atmospheric sound of The Cure as it does to funky ear-worm craftsmen like Todd Terje, one of lead singer Gabe Donnay's most important influences while making the record. Each song, no matter how happy it sounds, discusses grief in earnest, a juxtaposition that makes this record even more compelling.

Love Hz is particularly good at playing with the listener's emotions, invoking as many silences (beautifully subdued violin interlude "The Smallest Things") as it does four-on-the-floor electronic beats (the angry, upbeat claim of independence "Never Gonna Take You Back"). The resulting soundscape is equal parts dreamy and danceable, although these two worlds need not be mutually exclusive. Satchmode inhabits a sonic realm where everyone is on the dance floor with tears in their eyes, going all out while trying to be okay.

The record's sadness never gets in the way of its pure effervescence: the appropriately named "Hall & Oates" talks about feeling alone when wrapped around a lover, with the song itself wrapped in sweltering guitar, and catchy synth flourishes that unleash it from all fury and sadness. Not to say that Donnay doesn't absolutely ground us in the way he feels: the most heart-wrenching lyrics come midway, with Donnay's delectable falsetto uttering "Another lonely night drifting through the past / I feel at peace sometimes / But it never lasts."

Moments of honesty and tribute like this pervade the record: from high-energy tracks like the Depeche Mode-esque "Don't Give Up On Me" and "State of Mind" to the more mellowed down "Further Away." Even in it's downbeat moments, which include the excellent acoustic take 'In/Between," Donnay never loses any of his vigor to portray pain as a dance floor. His voice belongs as much in the realm of indie rock as it does in the synth pop he's creating, a quality that only further adds dimension and honesty to Love Hz.

Love Hz is out now. Follow Satchmode on Facebook and Twitter, and listen to the title track below.

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