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efs-ia-029x400.jpgElectric Valentine
Automatic
Electric Fantastic Sound
8/10

When nights get colder this winter, don’t expect the dance floor to cool off with them because Electric Valentine’s first full-length album Automatic is red-hot and jam-packed with summertime energy that lasts all year round. Based in Huntington Beach, California, Grammy-award winning producer, Chris Qualls teams up with Broadway singer, Lauren Baird to make beautiful electropop music together- it’s an ideal fit that it has more staying power than a Kardashian-Odom marriage.

First of all, “Body to Body” is a great pop song and the energy is reminiscent of early 90s dance songs. Baird’s voice has the right intensity to match the electronic beat because she really can sing her heart out. In addition, the effects on this track give it an extra kick.

Another knock-out track, “13 Reasons” has such high-energy that it shocks the system in a sense because of its quick-paced arrangement. The vocal manipulation adds to it and it’s a memorable track that defines Qualls style and he just excels as an electronic maestro. For instance, the title track “Automatic” showcases Qualls ability to layer the song with synchronized vocals and incorporate an infectious hook that entices DJs to “automatically” spin this track. It has this strange, attractive quality without trying too hard with the arrangement. Also, the song just sounds so solid all the way through to the end.

The track “Binary Outbreak” is a little bit more industrial, almost in the same vein as Depeche Mode. It has a ridiculous groove with an edgy sound pulsating at the heart of it. EV is definitely an exciting band to bump in the car because their energy just begs for it. This band is a force to be reckoned with in the electronic/indie scene.

However, they have a catchy pop side. Take for instance “Beat Drop”- this is a very radio-friendly track because it’s not too experimental or too “out there.” It has the potential to win over the mainstream audience because the vocals are very clean and not to mention, the O.C. duo has an irresistible sound that makes heads nod and toes tap.

The beat in “Chasing the Sun” is very Casio-keyboards and it’s not cheesy at all in its execution. Baird’s sensitive tone in her voice calls for attention and it is the first mellow track on this album. However, as soon as it picks up at the end, EV is on to something. This artist presents a dual musical contrast that takes smart risks. As a result, the duo doesn’t falter or fail to impress for that matter.

Above all, they are a fun and entertaining act. If “A Night with You” doesn’t scream a late night at the club, then nothing else will. Even the lyrics allude to it. Overall, it’s an exciting dance track that can get ingrained in the skull, even after a few drinks- it’s that catchy. Another fun example is “My Best Mistake,” because it’s girly and flirty. It definitely makes the cut for the girls’ night out playlist. Also, there’s no denying freestyle dance scene influences from woman in that genre, such as Teena Marie and Stacy Q.

The track “Faster” stays on course with this album’s high-energy. Qualls’ musical tricks  spices it up greatly but the vocals sell the song the best. It gets interesting on the two-minute mark and it goes straight mainstream, almost in the direction of hip-hop with the syncopated drums. The producer uses a smooth technique and the engineering talent is showcased very nicely on this song. This is also apparent in “A Better Class of Criminal,” because it gets very robotic and the music is the sole focus on this track. It has a lot of edge to it and it sounds like a European dance track.

On the tail-end of the album, “Waiting for the Harmony” is one of the many tracks that stay pretty underground instead of mainstream friendly. The transition is unexpected but it showcases this act’s range. Baird has such a powerful voice in this song; there’s something so poetic and haunting about her, but the drama makes the keyboard arrangement all the more intense and not to mention, compelling.

In the end as a bonus and absolute treat, EV covers a classic 80s dance song- “Take Your Time” by SOS Band. Baird does a wonderful job of singing this short, simple version and this rendition doesn’t over do it. EV manages to keep the essence of the original in such a classy way.

After listening to the bonus track, the album rating just went up a notch. However, EV is a band who masters their sound and executes it so well without straying too far from their dance crowd. In fact, the Californians embraces the many dance eras: 70s disco, 80 industrial and 90s freestyle. For an artist to recognize the history and incorporate it with such an extraordinary voice and talented producer is nothing short of amazing.

–Gail Navarro