Imagine centuries after human extinction, a colony of Martians lands on Earth and discovers a trove of ’80s synthpop records. They’re inspired to make their own music, and the result is a spectral derivative of synth-driven groups like Depeche Mode or New Order.
That’s the vibe of Cold Beat’s new single, “Mandelbrot Fall” and accompanying music video, released Aug. 3 via Like LTD.
From the track’s opening measures, punchy synths and a persistent kick/snare beat conjure images of spandex-clad dancers in a sweaty club. Like traditional synthpop songs, “Mandelbrot Fall” runs about 3 minutes and features a catchy hook and sparse, repetitive lyrics.
Though synthpop constitutes the backbone of this single, Cold Beat draws from myriad genres. Hannah Lew’s breathy vocals sound like a slightly stoned Phoebe Bridgers, while gossamer harmonies on the chorus invoke Lorde whispering into the ether.
And then there are elements that transcend genre, like the R2-D2 chatter on the bridge and what sounds like clanging chains as the song fades to close.
The video, too, feels like a fusion of past and future. Produced by running a colorblocked collage of VHS tape through a video synthesizer, the final product looks like someone made a stop motion animation from Andy Warhol silkscreen prints. It’s a perversion of traditional filmmaking techniques and a work of conceptual art in its own right.
“Mandelbrot Fall” is the second single off of Cold Beat’s latest LP, War Garden, which is slated for a Sept. 17 release. The album’s title marries historical imagery — it’s named after World War II victory gardens — with the possibility of beauty emerging from wreckage.
The album’s lead single “See You Again” is similarly synth-heavy, though more somber. The new material demonstrates a departure from past albums, which featured guitars and erred on the side of post-punk.
Fans of Cold Beat might be jarred by this change, but the new tracks are nuanced, infective, and absolutely worth a listen.