However, Now +4Eva is more eloquent and unique than just a hash of bygone sounds.
The album is bursting with energy, and is consistently upbeat in tempo and emotion. ‘U Tell Me’ and ‘2 Time’ are wonderful soul-soothing tracks that contrast the first few songs, and together are enough to cure the worst lethargy.
That said, the group seem to have sacrificed lyrical impact to achieve this funky sugar pop; ‘Boom (4Eva)’, for example, is need of a singable punchline. Furthermore, songs that are very similar in tempo are grouped together across the album, such as ‘In The Future’ and ‘Echo’. Their vast electronic landscapes and short replicated melodies make it hard to link a distinct sound to a particular song.
However, the sometimes-repetitive musical textures are rectified by the switch up of vocalists, a factor that helps to keep the songs fresh. The singers wisely adapt to suit what is needed at the time: ‘April’ evokes r n’ b with drawn out utterances and a mellow pace, which drapes itself atop a syncopated rhythm. Conversely, ‘Dream A Little Crazy’ is an anthemic crowd pleaser, soaring with attention-grabbing vocal harmonies and an uplifting melody.
Despite the well-crafted array of sounds, this album may be hard for casual listeners to engage with. Unlike the dance-pop of an artist like Flume, Now +4Eva requires immersion in its multitude of synths and effects to be appreciated.
Comprised of saccharine dance numbers with wiggly synths and mechanized vocal harmonies, much of the album sounds almost cartoonish. And while the stylized production value speaks to the band’s evolutionary process, it also makes them less interesting. This is epitomized in opening track “In the Future”, an upbeat, syrupy number tugged by peppy synths and sprightly keyboards. While the track isn’t necessarily unpleasant, it’s largely bland, rendering much of the sound puerile and unfledged. That tepid formula is shepherded in “I Might Survive”, a sticky dance song infused with high trombones and candied vocals.
Parts of Now + 4EVA are digestible once you’ve accepted the album for what it is and proceed under the assumption that the group aren’t taking themselves too seriously. “Echo” features Kellie Sutherland’s sedate vocals over a simple drum loop and jazzy synths, while “U Tell Me” elicits frontman Cameron Bird’s fascination with ’80s new wave pop and delivers it with percussive, mid-tempo beats.
(Consequence Of Sound)