EP: Dead Modern – Still Cool review

by Craig Howieson

Dead Modern’s debut EP is a gloriously synth heavy, rose tinted drive through the annals of our youth

At the beginning of this month, there was a post on the near dormant Twitter feed of much loved and sorely missed Scottish group, There Will Be Fireworks, which quickened the pulse of those fans who feared they may have heard the last from the band with 2013’s The Dark, Dark Bright. The message confirmed a third record is on its way, if not yet imminent. And, perhaps even more interestingly mentioned is not one, but two side projects involving members of the group – with new material ready to go.

The first of these is Dead Modern – comprised of four members whose previous credits between them include, but are not limited to, There Will Be Fireworks, The Youth & Young, New Year Memorial and Seeing Other People. The group’s debut EP, Still Coolis a slow dance of synths, warmed with the sip of concealed hip flasks. It is the duvet at the end of a night dancing till your legs give out – crying though you wish you hadn’t, and skipping the late bus to run home for the feeling of being alive.

A Scottish take on the electronic swell and sad indie pop of LCD Soundsystem and Phoenix, the opening track, True North, paints a Talking Heads’ bass line with a Future Islands’ gloss. And singer, Nicholas McManus, hasn’t lost an ounce of the emotional connect that made There Will Be Fireworks a band that spoke with an immediacy of the heart. Lamenting lost opportunities, looking for where dreams can be salvaged, and finding contentment in the longing this conjures, everything about Still Cool is stacked to pull at heartstrings.

Glasgow is ever present on the EP – its beauty and brutality carved into every snatch of programmed drums and ping of electric guitar. It provides a touch point for those who know or have known the city, but also acts as a character in its own right for those yet to be introduced. And despite all three tracks on the EP coming in at around the six minute mark, the soulful escape of their krautrock drive and echoing dance synths make you wish you could sway within them indefinitely.

On the strength of this EP, Dead Modern deserve to establish themselves fully as an act in their own right – not merely a side project. Still Cool is an ode to youth, a love letter to Glasgow, and a celebration that music doesn’t leave us. It’s there for our past, present and future selves.

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