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Synthpop two ways

Exploring the emotional spectrum of synth sound with two divergent bands

Lucky+Love explore the darker side of synthpop, blending noise and hooks for an inescapable pull. Photo credit: Facebook

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There's something kind of admirable and romantic about the advent, and continued popularity, and synth music. Synthesizers were created, in part, to provide a more precise engine for creating music, cutting out the middle man that would otherwise be fumbling around with analog instruments like guitars, drums, and bass. Eliminating human error could, potentially, create a kind of purity of music that would otherwise be impossible to access. Beyond the precision implicit in synth music, there was also the added benefit of allowing an extremely curtailed lineup -- even one solo artist -- to create sounds that might otherwise require a full band to make. Synthesizers were the wave of the future.

Once guitars were not eradicated from the world, it became clear that synth music, while still benefitting from its relative ease and truncated design, could flourish on a purely aesthetic basis. The fundamentally inorganic nature of synthesizers would provide the foundation for any number of bands to emerge in electronica, post-punk, New Wave, dance music, and techno. And though synthesizers are, by nature, based on limitations of sound, there are a number of ways in which your synth music can go. Saturday's show at Le Voyeur features a few bands that lean on synths for their driving force, but I'd like to focus on the polar opposites on the bill: Static Shore and Lucky+Love.

At their cores, Static Shore and Lucky+Love represent the light and dark spectrums of synth-pop, respectively. Seattle duo Static Shore creates bubbly electronica that carries with it a sense of wide-eyed wonder and ebullient drive. Light as a feather and chronically catchy, Static Shore's music is tailor-made for sun-dappled drives on a lazy afternoon. Their songs are almost too pristine, feeling just as suited to college radio as they are to mainstream pop exposure.

Lucky+Love, meanwhile, find their sweet spot on the dark side of the moon, embracing the moodier potential of synth-pop. The Los Angeles two-piece errs on the side of maximalism, layering hooks and noise over each other, creating something approaching a seductive cacophony. Touchstones like Depeche Mode and the Human League ring out clearly with Lucky+Love, with an icy cool running headlong into a gauzy sonic opulence. This is the type of music you listen to when the streetlights are the only things illuminating your midnight stroll, and the break of morning has never seemed so far away.

Whether you find yourself particularly drawn to either of these bands, they both occupy important real estate in a mind that's always searching for a mood. The artificiality of the synthesizers helps your brain to cut to the chase.

LUCKY+LOVE, w/ Static Shore, 2 Libras, Villam, 10 p.m., Saturday, Le Voyeur, 404 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, $5, 360.943.5710,


The next night at Le Voyeur, we've got a mysterious band called RCS. I normally stay away from bands that have next to nothing about themselves listed, and less than a full album available, but I'm charmed by RCS. The Salt Lake City band has three songs released, and those tracks practically attack the pleasure center of my brain. "Marmalade" somehow hits a sweet spot that I never knew I wanted to hear: the idiosyncratic vocals of Kevin Rowland from Dexys Midnight Runners, mixed with the swanky pop of Spandau Ballet. Listening to RCS feels like finding out that somebody's been reading my diary, and I am here for it.

RCS, 6 p.m., Sunday, Le Voyeur, all ages, 404 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, cover TBA, 360.943.5710,

Fans of twee indie pop should pay attention to this one. Seattle outfit Flying Fish Cove will be taking the stage at Real Art this Sunday, bringing with them every bleeding drop of Bell and Sebastian vibe they've got. Almost unbearably bright, Flying Fish Cove's jangle pop game is strong, presenting every song as if it's the intro for a plucky hero in an animated show. In the case of "Johnny Paper" -- featuring Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos -- this is practically accurate, referencing a character from the Puff the Magic Dragon film. If you want to believe in a more magical life, Flying Fish Cove might just be your new soundtrack.

FLYING FISH COVE, w/ Ketamine Cat, Aylen Trees, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Real Art Tacoma, all ages, 5412 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, $10,

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