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Thursday 27 June 2024

8X8 - Life During Wartime


Six years on from New Data New Day, an album that was high in our 2018 Best Albums Of The Year, Life During Wartime has really snuck up on me and it is as wonderful as you might expect. The mix of Piano Pop and Psych Pop makes me think that the album has been recorded just for me.

The collaboration between Lane Steinberg and Alex Khodchenko has never released a bum note. You can expect Pop Rock excellence from Lane Steinberg who inhabits a space somewhere between Paul McCartney and Andrew Gold with a fondness for 60s and 70s sound. 

But Khodchenko takes proceedings in a very different direction instrumentally, treading into Prog, Psych and much more, sometimes via Guitar solos, other times by genres or arrangements, the speciality being Psych Pop.

The song is never lost sight of, particularly harmony and melody wise, but the addition of mellotron, Farfisa etc and wonderful Guitar playing takes the material into unexpected realms. The best example of the mix is the opener I.T.B, a heady mix of the two prevailing genres.

But the stand alone areas also excel. The King Of Everything is one of the best Pop songs that you will hear this year. Tepache Terrace is magnificent Psych Pop, bordering on Toytown that adds unexpected parts regularly.

Mississippi Window is McCartney Pop of the highest order whilst Old Dogs is much moodier, gently heading towards Modern Prog or even Symphonic Rock. Loneliness is another example of the great Pop on show as a duet with Rebecca Ona.

Finally, those who know me know of my distaste of Christmas songs. All that forced jolliness and sleigh bells and twee is not for me. I don't need to be cheered up by mediocrity and jaunt, I'm happy enough thank you! But this album closes with Psychedelic Christmas, a great song. 

If any song could change my mind about Christmas songs in general, it is this, but you know it won't. Life During Wartime is stunningly great and will be a shoe in for the Top 10 in the end of year praise and deservedly so.

You can listen to and buy the album here. It is available on CD and as a download.


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