Review of Hanging Gardens Album by Classixx

Classixx are Californian production duo Michael David and Tyler Blake, two men who are very clearly on a mission to teleport us back to the neon and snakeskin world of the mid-1980s. They're hardly alone, of course - a whole movement has sprung up around dicking about with vintage synths and pretending the wind is blowing through your feather cut hair - but despite its obvious debt to Mylo, Hanging Gardens manages to strike a balance between both retro and contemporary.

Classixx Hanging Gardens Album

One of the main reasons for this is that Blake & David don't try to take themselves too seriously; the press blurb which accompanies Hanging Gardens talks of its suitability for "Road trips, pool parties and dance clubs", and with this as a mission statement, the listener sets off with them to all points of hedonism. Sometimes the influences border on plagiarism; the languorous titular opener pilfers less than subtly from the refrain to Fleetwood Mac's Little Lies - brilliantly - whilst the DNA of A Stranger Love recalls Kim Carnes Betty Davis Eyes.

It doesn't take long to get your head around the idea that this is best party you ever had whilst still in nappies. All You're Waiting For with its spunky vocals and keytar flourishes could quite easily be the older cousin of Chew Lips, or Shalamar, whilst the windswept chillwave of Dominoes wears a big grin and little else.  It's not all Ray Bans and GTO size hits though; Supernature's feeling of routine signals that the lack of depth of the original song pool is a problem not effectively dealt with, whilst the wafer thin soul of Long Lost dips a toe in the water of pastiche.

This kind of slip is inevitable of course, and there's still plenty of ambiguous time machine thrills to abandon yourself to before you remember that the air soon got dirty and the sex got clean. Of the rest, a surprising burst of finger popping techno on Rhythm Santa Clara, Holding On's vibey disco and the more worthy synth pop of closer Borderline (No, not that one) all get the job done. It goes almost without saying that Hanging Gardens will hit home most with people who need a reminder of a blinder of which they had no real experience. But that's the 80s in a nutshell; even if you were there it felt like most of it wasn't real. It's still time to let the music play.

Andy Peterson

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