Moore Music: Kavinsky’s “Reborn”
For so many, music is often a thing to cling to when there’s nothing else around. In 2013 discovering new music was about all I had going for me at the time, and to help pull me out of a bad spot I got really into bands that were reviving synthpop sounds of the 80s that would ultimately lead to the synthwave genre that sprouted and thrived in the 2010s. The near-undisputed king of that movement was French producer Kavinsky, who’s song Nightcall appeared in the Ryan Gosling movie Drive to smashing success, and helped launch The Weeknd to fame. His album Outrun was a singular retro-drenched experience that made fans desperate for a follow-up. But that sophomore album never came. Until now! After 9 excruciating years, Kavinsky returns with an album appropriately called Reboen.
It’s been 2 weeks since this album came out now, and I’m actually glad I spent little more time with it, to appreciate the record for what it is more, and realizing exactly what Kavinsky as enacted with it. Because at first, I was a bit heartbroken. With sick as heck names like “Plasma“, “Zombie“, “Zenith” and “Renegade“, I was ready for my head to explode, but these songs, for the most part, lack the harsh and powerfully raw 80’s synth tone that was so prevalent on the his first record. The tracks on Reborn still really good and catchy with plenty of nostalgic timbre, but seem softer and more reeled in, and certainly more in line with a lot of other pop songs today, like he’s imitating his own imitators. Also abandoned is the story that the songs of Kavinsky loosely told, a Halloweenish story of a ghost man possessing a Ferrari that haunts the California Coast. A bit corny to be sure, but why the shift?
With a return to music Kavinsky has re-emerged with a message about his music, he hates the synthwave label that he helped create. He doesn’t want to be boxed in, and came back at long last simply because he finally had a set of song he felt strongly about and wanted to release to the world. It’s a sentiment echoed by increasingly many artists under that same sonic umbrella, and if the titan who drew all those artists to the world of synth revival rejects it, well then it’s good as dead.
So lets take it as that, a collection of songs from a long dormant artist wanting to try out something different? How does it fare then? Amazingly, when I cast aside my rose-tinted glasses of the past and what I thought this record should sound like, I enjoyed it much more for what it was. Perhaps that was the same issue with synthwave on the whole – people holding the past in a little too high regard to the point they were seeing something that maybe never really existed. You can’t expect things not to change. If you’ve never listened to Kavinsky or this kind of music before know that it’s in a slightly different package, but this is still a great record to get all the dark, haunting, sorrowful yet energizing feelings that makes his music so powerful, and that’s what matters most.