For The Night To Control
Synth rock duo Electric Century is a curious project to say the least. For fans of My Chemical Romance, it will be known as bassist Mikey Way’s highly anticipated post-MCR project, and from the much smaller pool of New London Fire fans, it will be known as front man David Debiak’s project with the bassist from My Chemical Romance. Either way, the resulting synth-driven rock is unlike anything fans from either camp will be anticipating. The duo’s debut full length, For The Night To Control, comes across like AFI side project Blaqk Audio, but with more 80’s synth and less flashy electronica.
While Debiak’s vocals are more typically associated with a country or folk influence, they fit well at Electric Century’s fore. When it comes to 80’s treadmill pop, the band doesn’t shy away from some fairly buoyant intros. “You Got It All Wrong” opens like a slice of Depeche Mode, while “Right There” opens feels like more of an 8-bit throwback. Debiak’s natural semblance to gravitate towards dark themes projects a faint gothic influence circa White Lies. The weight of such expression forms the verses of songs like “I Lied,” which swell steadily into the chorus with gritty emotionalism. “For You” follows with a wave of sweeping pulses that feel somewhat more benign, but make for an easy listen. From here on out the tracks tend to scale back the focus on retro sounds, delivering a far more contemporary feel that arguably shares some distant likenesses with Debiak’s prior time in Sleep Station. “Hey Lacey” in particular offers an insight into what direction Electric Century may have taken had they ditched the 80’s influence. When the synth returns for “Let You Get Away” the song takes on more of a pulsing, indie presentation, complete with atmospheric twinkles.
Interestingly, on the latter half of the album the duo opt to cover a couple of early New London Fire tracks. The first, “Until the Light Goes Out On Me,” is lifted from their The Blood, The Dirt, The Faith album, an album defining NFL’s grittiest and most vulnerable moments. Electric Century’s revision fleshes out the song’s formerly barren landscape by covering the track in a subtle electronic layer of steady soundboard chirping. The song relies heavily upon the original for structure, but slowly builds its own identity while sustaining the album’s dark energy. “Someone Like You” features a similar approach to electrifying New London Fire’s rural atmosphere, this time invoking an accompanying layer of female vocals. The tactic compliments the song’s dual lyrical tone, and outshines the original version in tact alone. Electric Century’s self-cover songs fit so well amidst the primary track listing that newcomers stand to hardly notice the fact that these tracks are indeed covers.
But perhaps the most immediately striking moment comes in the form of “Hail The Saints”, which explores concepts of faith through dark rhythms, a ghostly tempo, and the eerie collective voices of a children’s choir. The children’s voices exude a haunting quality as they chant “hail the saints in a godless world” against an assortment of percussive and electronic elements. It’s like a gothic dance style beat meets a zealous preacher’s sermon. I’m not certain of the duo’s religious affiliation, but the message seems to be one that straddles the line between belief and a more critical eye.
Overall, Electric Century make For The Night to Control a clear their manifesto for dark, catchy, synth driven electro-rock. But while the album starts off flashy, it doesn’t take as many stylistic risks over its full runtime as might be implied early on. That being said, the band exhibits care in their craft, and handles their covers of New London Fire with attention to detail and finesse. The 80’s influence tends to taper by album end, but what remains is equally as enjoyable and full of substance. Here’s to hoping that Electric Century stay the course and continue to explore their dark electronic ways for round two.