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Live Review: Retro Culture throws back to golden eras with Wonderland On The Radio EP

6 June 2017 | 8:24 am | Freya Dinesen

Melbourne based artist RETRO CULTURE has dropped their new EP, Wonderland On The Radio, showcasing a huge hoard of music diversity.

The six track extended play has already showcased the majority of its singles for the last six months or so, but offers a pretty huge range of diversity in its full compilation.

Each song resonates a different style and aesthetic, blurring lines and amalgamating tones to create some incredibly fluctuant sonic creations. Some of the channeled vibes are more apparent than others, with overriding vocal influences from Wham! and wonderful boy George Michael.

Retro Culture was initially formed by Matt Connelly as a bedroom project, recently turning into four piece band and enlisting Matt Phillips on guitar, Matthew Hives on drums and Daniel Boca-Vista on bass and keys. Wonderland On The Radio utilises this newly introduced line-up to flesh out a fresh and unique sound on “new wave” styling, merging timbres and developing new sounds to provide insane aural variance across the EP.

Connelly’s dynamic, bold voice shines through the musical assortment, with instrumental and production skills equally meeting the benchmark set by his soaring vocals.

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Opening track ‘Heart Attack’ is introduced with whirring, oscillating synths, which quickly drop into overwhelming synth-pop melodiousness. One could cry misdirection, but the daringly smooth transition both complements the song and Connelly’s songwriting talent.

‘No Longer There’ is a stark, ambient contrast to the EP’s opening banger. Dropping into synth pads, echoing percussion and overly reverberated vocals reminiscent of M83, this track brings to the table the first course of complex emotive expression.

‘Bad Romance’ continues down this line, slowing things down to an 1980s-esque synth-pop slow ballad. Guitar and bass parts are intricately curated behind the bombarding synth lines and harmonised vocal effects.

‘Samo’ totally changes sonic direction again, reintroducing snapping percussion, oscillating synthesized leads and throwing in auto-tune and vocal pitch shifting. ‘Calling’ gives us another deviation with huge, synth heavy sounds, although both tracks are somewhat resonant to works from The Weeknd.

It wouldn’t quite be an intense exploration of the genealogy of old school synth "wave" styles if there wasn’t throwback to 1990s and 2000s boy band pop, which is exactly what is delivered in ‘Us’. This one really contrasts to the vibe and tone of the other tracks on the EP, but if we look at Wonderland On The Radio like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get and somehow it just works!

Retro Culture are setting the the bar as ‘80s revivalists, while the huge assortment of works also leaves plenty of headroom that doesn’t limit their music to a standalone sound or time warp. Having left themselves enough space to move stylistically, it would not be surprising if they continue to experiment with their sound and direction in future releases.

Having already attracted a hell of a lot of streaming traffic on Spotify, these guys are definitely something to watch. In the meantime, enjoy the pick ‘n’ mix that is Wonderland On The Radio.


Photo by She Is Aphrodite