"Passive with Desire," the title of a new album by Salt Lake City band Choir Boy, perfectly describes the mood it conjures.
The Salt Lake City band looks back to the darkly romantic sound of 1980s pop: broken-heart lyrics with swooning falsetto vocals over arrangements of synths, shimmery chorus guitars and overlapping live and electronic drums.
Take a standout track like "Blood Moon," a lushly arranged track with allusions to vampires and depression and an unlikely phrase like "I lost my happiness somehow" as its hook. It's sensual and gothic at once, like a soft-focus dream sequence in a David Lynch movie.
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The label's website notes that band leader Adam Klopp sang in choirs when he was young, which helps to explain his vocal style. He writes melodies that glide back and forth across a wide range in a specific, vibrato-free '80s style. Think of the hook to Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World."
The album, available on Bandcamp via Team Love Records, features Klopp on vocals, keys, percussion and sequencing; Katrina Marie Ricks Peterson on vocals; Bret Meisenbach on guitar; Kyle Hooper on keys; and Chaz Costello. Stephen Cope contributes a solemn trumpet to "Sanitarium," and on five tracks, Alyssa Pyper provides strings that heighten the atmosphere. Klopp and Peterson's vocal harmonies often are quite layered and plush.
The album has all the reverb you'd expect of an album that looks back to the 1980s, rendered with a warmth not always associated with the cold-sounding production of the era. It's worth noting, too, that they don't reference the period with any apparent irony. They love this stuff, and imbue the songs with creative, memorable arrangements.