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John Maus’ ‘Screen Memories’ plays like a fun homage

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Three and a half stars

John Maus Screen Memories

It’s not often that I play the “I’ve been around for a while” card, but I’m playing it for John Maus: The lightly eccentric synth-pop artist makes music that sounds almost exactly similar to the stuff I grew up with. Nearly every track on Screen Memories, either by accident or design, is an homage—to Gary Numan, to Suicide, to the Human League, et al. (The sole exception is the jittery, guitar-driven New Wave of “Find Out,” which has its own set of antecedents, too numerous to list here.)

That’s not to say the record isn’t fun. Maus has built up a terrific set of android beats for Screen Memories—literally built them; reportedly, he assembled many of the synths heard on the record himself. “The Combine,” “Bombs Away” and “The People Are Missing” are legitimate synth-pop epics that can stand with the best of that bygone era. You can practically see the raccoon-eye makeup and the dancers wrapped in tinfoil. But Screen Memories is a portal to the past, not a road to the future. I can only listen to so much before I’m tempted to switch to Soft Cell or Visage—to the original, undiluted current.

Tags: Music, Album
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