New Wave Gold by electro-punk outfit Digital Leather is like a capsule from many different times. Led by multi-instrumentalist Shawn Foree and active since 2009, Digital Leather recorded New Wave Gold in Nebraska and released it on September 15 through No Coast Recordings.
The album lives up to its name as a new-wave-sounding album. Full of electronic elements and warm synth sounds, the record is a real throwback and offers many dance numbers.
The album opens with “Dark Ages,” an electronic rock tune with hints of new wave. The synths sound like they could have been recorded in the ’80s, or the ’00s. There is a hint of country singing in the vocals, and the electronic sounds inspire a feeling of nostalgia. “Born to Win” is super catchy with lots of electronic energy. “A Cut Above” features sleek percussion, rich synths, and fabulous vocals.
“Acid Rain” is fast paced and energetic. It’s hard to sit still hearing this one. The acoustic guitar hints give this song a pop feeling. It’s also slightly comedic with humorous lyrics. At one point, Foree sings, “Just pour your acid rain on/ I don’t want this/ It’s not healthy.”
“My Little Jackhammer” is an electronic dance-punk jam that sounds very much like music of the ’00s when Digital Leather first emerged. Hearing this song is like going back to that time in music. “Sad Sap and the Infinite Ego” is an art rock number that has storytelling and narrative qualities to the lyrics.
“Compass” exudes post-punk and new wave with the deep singing, synths, and electronic sounds. It sounds futuristic and offers up hints of industrial that appear more frequently throughout the rest of the album. “A Year” begins with moody keys, then introduces catchy acoustic guitar.
“King of the Idiots” features heavy beats and drumming. The song is dark and dissonant by comparison to the songs that precede it. Deep singing and retro-future vibes percolate this cinematic and at-times-industrial track. By this point it feels like the album starts to diverge by continuing with the industrial vibes.
“Our World” is super heavy, ripe with industrial instrumentation to create a dark mood and atmosphere. There is also a punk element to the sound, particularly when Foree sings “Nothing’s gonna change our world.”
The album returns to lush tones with “Smoke Flood.” “Smoke Flood” is a psychedelic tune that unleashes dream and space-pop. It’s a real palate-cleanser after the heavier numbers and feels similar to earlier tracks, all the while chartering different territory. “Love” has a quaint feel to it. It’s a cozy number, and as the song begins to play towards the end of the album, the comfort it offers is welcome. The electronic beats and synths on “Sinking Ship” are a reminder of everything that is fun and hypnotic about this album.
New Wave Gold by Digital Leather offers up punk-inspired dance tracks with a heavy dose of electronic that is fun and deep to hear. Fans of music from the ’80s and ’00s will find something familiar in the songs on the album.