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The Search – Some Place Far Away

The Search – Some Place Far Away

For more than a decade and a half Sweden’s The Search have been in the business of making 80s-infused new wave/post punk. Earlier releases tipped their hat toward the likes of The Cure, The Church, possibly even The Sound with melodic bass lines and angst-ridden content. They were great fun albeit hardly known at all outside mainland Europe. By the time Kristofer Jönson from the band Jeniferever co-produced their fourth album, Saturnine Songs The Search looked set fair for some kind of breakthrough. However it proved not to be the case and The Search slipped into a sequence of worthwhile but diminishing long playing output. Only founder frontman Razmig Tekeyan remains, the band having contracted to solo act. Yet The Search has continued to release serviceable dreampop. Their album releases number into double figures now. (I make Some Place Far Away No 11).

So how is it?

Some Place Far Away is The Search’s love letter to mid-eighties synthpop. Tracks are lighter and more upbeat than those early years of The Search. Production is clean and sparkly. Little key flourishes reminded me of mid period OMD, New Order, Flock Of Seagulls and even Thomas Dolby. All this combines to give off a kind of Breakfast Club vibe. It’s what I call the transatlantic synthpop sound, the one that became synonymous with early MTV and the Brit invasion of US airwaves. Lead track ‘Far Away’ gives a good account of the whole album to come, silk smoothness and singalong sensibilities. Other notable cuts include ‘Hollow Log’, closing track ‘Agency’ and the ultra-appropriate for the times, ‘Life On Hold’.

This bright and breezy version of The Search isn’t without its detractors. The ‘bland’ word gets thrown around a lot, usually by hardcore fans of the bands earlier, post-punk incarnation. This is lazy though. Swedish pop music has plenty of melodic tradition. If The Search are MOR then so are The Mary Onettes, Kent and The Radio Dept. In truth Tekeyan has always been an underrated writer as well as a capable singer. His gift for a strong chorus is up there with his other esteemed countrymen. That said I do have reservations of my own. The songs are decent in of themselves but the album doesn’t really take us anywhere. As we progress beyond the midway point its lack of variety becomes more and more evident – those once-pleasing 80s throwbacks even begin to irritate. I actually believe Razmig has done well to forge an entire album out of this material. He has adapted pieces that he originally wrote for acoustic guitar into synthesizer arrangements. Not only this album in fact. Some Place Far Away is supposed to be viewed as a two-parter together with predecessor A Wave from the Sidelines.

Some Place Far Away is Europop. It will never be to everyone’s taste but that does not make it bland nor cheesy. Style is not the issue here. It’s the albums sameyness that truly holds it back.

One for The Search completists perhaps.

Like me.

Some Place Far Away is available now on limited edition compact disc via the Bandcamp page. At time of press The Search are offering their digital back catalogue at ‘name your price’ terms.

Bandcamp

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