A Life Divided – Echoes

Rating: 3/5
Distributor/label: AFM Records
Released: 2020
Buy Album: https://shop.afm-records.de/new/1685/a-life-divided-echoes-ltd.-digipak-cd
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/alifedivided/

BAND LINE-UP:

Jürgen Plangger – Vocals,
Korl Fuhrmann – Drums,
Tobi Egger – Bass,
Tony Berger – Guitar,
Erik Damköhler – Guitar, Keyboard & Programming.

TRACKLISTING:

1. Hello Emptiness
2. Dry Your Eyes
3. Addicted
4. Confronted
5. Enemy
6. Rock ’N’ Roll Star
7. Far
8. Anybody Out There
9. Push
10. Servant
11. The Ordinary
12. Circles
13. Forevermore

REVIEW:

With Christmas upon us and being a time for self-reflection and gluttony, it seems appropriate that an album crosses the desk that is reflecting on times gone-by. Now that could present itself in a number of ways, be that some form of introspection at one’s past, reminiscing about the good times, or aping the feel of a particular era. Germany’s A LIFE DIVIDED plump for the latter and boy do they love themselves some 80s synths.

Broadly-speaking, fifth album ‘Echoes’ – sixth if you count their one album as CYDONIAN – is new wave (or not-so-new wave now since it’s around forty years old) meets rock, and it’s a love affair that is not afraid of a little public display of affection. None more so than on “Enemy”, where the intro synth could have been lifted right out of the records of the day. There is almost a touch of KRAFTWERK about it, and with that the record’s strength is displayed: variety.

Whilst ‘Echoes’ is simply synth rock, that description is almost far too restrictive. It neglects the likes of opener “Hello Emptiness”, with its subtle industrial tinge, or the likes of the pulsing and upbeat “Push”. Not to mention the JOURNEY-esque beginnings to “Servant” (seriously, compare that to their American forefathers’ “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” and say that there isn’t a similarity) – it all makes for a rather well-balanced album. Naturally, too much of one thing can be a little too much and ultimately detract, but ‘Echoes’ keeps things toeing the line.

There has been a lot said in the preceding 260 words on synths and the 80s influence, but the album is not without its rockers (thankfully!). If you are looking for some of the harder stuff, the chunky, squeaking riff in “Dry Your Eyes”, or the snaking heft that forms the chorus of “Anybody Out There” should do the trick, whilst it should be noted that the band can be relied upon for a big, balls-out chorus (see pretty much every song on the album). It is a touch formulaic, but when a formula works, why mess about with it if it will only hurt the end product?

Yet, for all the album’s finer points, able production and balance, it feels very safe. It’s not bad, absolutely not, but it doesn’t slap you about the chops demanding further listens. Maybe it is because looking back is not looking forward – re-purposing something from the past doesn’t make it new again. Synths, or more broadly, electronics and rock music are certainly not strange bedfellows any longer, and there is some really forward-thinking music out there that combines these. But in wearing their influences on their sleeves so obviously, and without leaning too far to one side of the two sounds, A LIFE DIVIDED have stayed well within the boundaries of both which plays it far too safe to really hit home.

The album’s theme of finiteness might throw up the question of whether those 80s influences have had their time, but, nevertheless, ‘Echoes’ remains a well-written and rather catchy album. There is enough variety throughout so that songs do not blend into one another, and retain a flavour of their own, whilst the choruses are suitably rocky and uplifting, which you can be sure will go down very well in a live setting. There may be a certain level of comfort on display, but the considered songwriting that features light and shade does make for a pleasant listen. It may not have lit the blue touch paper, but A LIFE DIVIDED’s latest could ably soundtrack your Christmas rock party.

REVIEW BY LEE CARTER

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