Even the most in-the-know Boise music fans are likely unfamiliar with the name Trans Atlantic Crush. It's not that the band has only played a few word-of-mouth gigs; it hasn't played any. Anywhere. Ever. Which is a shame, because its debut album Remember is easily one of the year's best locally and not just because it was mixed by Guy Massey, a Grammy-winning engineer who turned knobs for The Beatles.
Analog synths swirl and hum amid mid-tempo beats as singer Jim Cochell dishes out harmonies about love and loss.
The album opens with the title track "Remember," in which a choir sings and a synth sweeps. It sounds retro but not much more. Then the chorus comes around and it's suddenly so much more. Strong hooks combine with anthemic lyrics and emotional anchors. The result is a sound smoother than the criminal that hit Annie's place in the '80s.
The general consensus is that electronic music is for dancing. Remember doesn't fit that bill. The primary approach is rooted more in the sort of pop songwriting that ruled the early days of the synthesizer instead of the atmosphere-rich danceable pastiches that have ruled its modern usage.
The album's best song is ""Radio Summer"," which begins as a moody, arpeggiated piano ballad rife with Gatsby-esque themes of trying to bring back a time in which things weren't hopelessly broken. But it quickly turns in to a bouncy sing-a-long that morphs the underlying sadness into a thrilling emotional geyser.
But it's hard to truly qualify "Radio Summer" as the album's best track. Nearly every song on Remember will stick in your head. But there's one potential problem: You may not think of them as being by Trans Atlantic Crush.
With the exception in higher-fidelity recording techniques, Trans Atlantic Crush is nearly indistinguishable from early Depeche Mode. Kids just discovering the glory of dark electro-pop might get it backward and think Depeche Mode is ripping off Trans Atlantic Crush. And for a band that's never played live, there are far worse fates.