If 1982 Came to 2015: The Receiver’s ALL BURN (Kscope)

Review of The Receiver, All Burn (Kscope, 2015).  11 tracks.

All Burn (Kscope, 2015).
All Burn (Kscope, 2015).

Formed a decade ago, The Receiver is the brothers Cooper – vocals, synths/keyboards, bass.  Each of the brothers handles vocals while Casey plays keyboards and bass and Jesse plays drums.  ALL BURN is the band’s third album, the first with Kscope.  The thing that strikes the listener immediately upon hearing the new album is the quality of the vocals and the vocal lines and melodies.  They are gorgeous.  Absolutely and completely gorgeous.  So gorgeous in fact that one could drown in their beauty.

Kscope has labeled The Receiver as “symphonic dream-prog” and if they had to be compared to another Kscope band, they would come closest to Sam Healy’s always-stunning North Atlantic Oscillation.  The Receiver resides on the pop end of Kscope’s offerings, they’re still far more pop than NAO.  Indeed, the best comparison would be to Thomas Dolby’s first album or something from mid-period OMD. Though the production—for the most part—is 2015, the sound is very 1982.

[As a side note, I’ve often wondered what a Big Big Train or a Porcupine Tree would do with One of Our Submarines.]

A moment ago, I mentioned the vocals.  Again, let me state: they are amazing, and these two brothers know how to sing together, and they especially know how to write vocal lines.  They use their voices rather perfectly for the lyrics.  In this way, they are far superior to Dolby or OMD.

If there’s a problem with the album, it’s the production of the bass and keyboards.  The musicianship is excellent, but the end product sounds tinny.  Frankly, I’m having a hard time gauging what’s exactly “not right” with them.  I think it’s that the vocals are so good and so well done that the bass and drums sound a bit thin and superficial, as though they were added on merely to make this a pop album.  It’s possible this is also due to the limitations of streaming the music—I’m listening to it streamed through an online promo on my MacBook Pro.  So, not ideal listening conditions.

Back to the good.  All Burn is pop in the best sense.  There are lots and lots of catchy hooks and lots of returns and repeats to key sections in the music. Still, there’s enough mystery and variety in the music to make it not simply another pop outing.  Songs such as “Dark Matter” have a Steven Wilson feel, and “April Blades” might have come from a Vangelis album.  The music grows moodier and moodier as the album progresses.  My favorite song, by far, is the penultimate track, “How to Be Young,” an existentialist pop navel gazer with lots of backwards production.  The final song, “These Days,” is probably the poppiest, taking us back to an Alphaville moment.

Don’t let my criticisms hold you back.  If you like good pop or pop prog, this album is for you.  If you want to imagine what a “Golden Age of Wireless” would sound like in 2015, buy this.  Or, if you simply love glorious vocals and vocalists, get this.  I probably won’t come back to this album too often, but I am quite interested to see what they do next.

RochaNews: The Receiver


Kscope debut “All Burn” out June 23

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Midwest symphonic dream-prog duo, The Receiver, has teamed up with AllMusic.com to stream the band’s forthcoming album, All Burn, before it hits stores next week via Kscope. Stream All Burnexclusively at: http://www.allmusic.com/blog/post/album-premiere-the-receiver/.

The band commented: “This is our first self-produced album, and we’re very excited to share it. We’ve aimed for a dreamy, lofty aesthetic, rich in synthesizer textures, with songs that flow nicely as a cohesive album, but are also able to stand on their own. We’ve drawn inspiration from classic progressive rock (Pink Floyd, Yes) as well as current alternative acts (Blonde Redhead, Mew, Radiohead). Lyrically, we’ve tried to be honest with content that focuses on the peaks and valleys of relationship, and the aftermath. We hope our fans and new listeners will find something here that resonates with them.”

All Burn can be pre-ordered now digitally at: http://smarturl.it/TR_AllBurn_Download and physically through the Kscope web-store at: www.kscopemusic.com/store.

Comprised of brothers Casey (vocals, synths/keyboards, bass) and Jesse Cooper (drums & vocals), the siblings call All Burn their “best material to date which focuses on a dreamier aesthetic than our earlier work.”

All Burn is also the first self-produced Receiver album, with mixing handled by Danny Kalb (Beck, Ben Harper, Foster the People, Karen O) and mastering by Brian Lucey (Sigur Ros, The Shins, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys).

1. Drift

2. Transit

3. To Battle an Island

4. Collector

5. Dark Matter

6. April Blades

7. The Summit

8. Let It Dry

9. All Burn

10. How to be Young

11. These Days

Formed in 2005 at The Ohio State University, The Receiver released its debut album, Decades, in 2006 on the New York-based, Stunning Models On Display Records. The duo returned with the sophomore offering, Length of Arms, in 2009 through Vital Music Records.

The Receiver is an incredibly active touring partnership, having played throughout North America and sharing the stage with notable acts such as St. Vincent, Midlake, The Album Leaf, Mono, Dawes, Royal Canoe, Maserati, Telefon Tel Aviv, Mr. Gnome and Operators to name a few, as well as performing at 2014’s CMJ Festival in New York.

The brothers have been featured on MTV2’s “Bands on The Rise,” and have songs included on the FX Network’s series, Dirt, as well as a number of independent shorts and films.

Stay tuned for more information on The Receiver and All Burn, out next week on Kscope.

The Receiver is…

Casey Cooper – vocals, synths/keyboards, bass

Jesse Cooper – drums, vocals

The Receiver online…