The Chain Gang of 1974: Wayward Fire (Modern Art Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger

Chain Gang cover

In a perfect, not-so-genre-gerrymandered 80s-revival world, this band would tour with goth-darlings Birthday Massacre, the bright keyboards and autumnal first-day-of-high-school angst of both bands duking it out for retro-supremacy. But as I alluded to, Denver’s Chain Gang of 1974 are more straightforward and less kitschy in their Talk Talk worship, which, in fairness, doesn’t really completely take control of this album until after a couple of Datarock/LCD Soundsystem/Justice formalities are out of the way in the first few songs. In other words, bandleader Kamtin Mohager does hedge his bets a little, applying his Tears For Fears baritone and wingnut falsetto to a few modern electro-rock things before going all-out ‘Pretty in Pink’. To his credit, though, there are some uniquely floaty synths and neo-trance sounds on all the tunes, making them a lot less disposable than they could have been, for example when ‘Taste of Heaven’ robs Toad The Wet Sprocket in broad daylight (that sort of thing does happen a lot here). On paper, obviously, this is perfect for Gen X parents carting the kids around in the minivan, but your mileage may vary.

Grade: B

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