March 1st, 2013
Title: Livin’ In The New Wave
Artist: Andre Cymone
Label: Funkytown Grooves
Release date: February 21, 2012
The early ’80s replaced George Orwell’s drab futurism with visions of the New Wave: sci-fi florescence as told by analog synthesizers and drum machines. Andre Cymone, childhood friend of Prince and longtime collaborator of His Purple Majesty, combined the industrial rhythms of Kraftwerk and P-Funk’s space grooves to help forge the sound of Minneapolis electrofunk, as heard on his 1982 release Livin’ in the New Wave. Bassplayer in Prince’s touring band, pre-Revolution, Cymone adds his signature digi-slap low end to robot harmonies and synth solos that sound like explosive binary code, to create neon fantasies of the future.
The title track kicks off the album with a dance-floor bang, foisting up New Wave’s Dayglo torch: “We’ve just begun, the time has come to start anew.” “Kelly’s Eyes,” a love song reminiscent of a wedding line dance, that venerable ’80s institution, and “All I Need Is You,” a doo wop song doused with laser-beam streams of synth, prove Cymone’s uncanny vocal resemblance to Prince. While he retains all of Prince’s bedroom breathiness and soaring falsetto, his voice and approach is decidedly less feline, a gauzier coo. In the slow R&B groove of “Baby Don’t Go,” Cymone’s delivers low-lit, dry-ice visions of a first love discovered in the awkward embrace of a slow dance.
“Voice on the Radio” leaves behind the funky basslines for more straight-ahead rock, layering a poppy Moog melody over a driving guitar beat for Ric Ocasek-style (The Cars) ear candy.
Cutting edge at the time, Cymone’s forays into tech-textured pop music resonates well with today’s ’80s retro runoff genres like chillwave, glo-fi, and indie electropop. For a vintage brand of pop earnestness and techno-futurism, check out Cymone’s upbeat vision of life in the new wave.
Livin’ in the New Wave has been reissued by Funkytown Grooves, a UK label that specializes in soul, funk, jazz, and disco reissues, including Cymone’s 1983 release Survivin’ in the 80’s and his 1985 release AC.
Reviewed by Betsy Shepherd