MATT VAN SCHIE
(BANDROOM) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
There is something admittedly really exciting about Matt Van Schie being a proper pop star.
Van She themselves, although definitely housing some brilliant pop hooks, generally seem to fall more into the Rock/Dance bracket – particularly with their fan-base. The band themselves are working on their new album as you read this; but there’s been a big chunky break in between that was perfect for solo ventures and side projects to come up to the proverbial podium. The bands resident synth-god Michael Di Francesco added his production touches to the ace new Cassette Kids album, and Matt, well Matt’s gone and done what I’d always hoped he would – a truly outstanding pop record.
“Balmy Nights” is perfect from beginning to end. Complete with four tracks, the EP serves as an incredible introduction into Matt’s musical mind and where he wants to take this particular project.
Lead single and EP opener “Saturday Night” gets things off to a rollicking start; that bass guitar sounding prominent over the 80′s referencing synths and a chorus of killer proportions. Next single “Journey”, featuring Matt’s Van She band-mate Di Francesco, is a Depeche Mode/Duran Duran loving synth-happy pop ballad with sharp production and a truly dreamy bridge. By the time the ace “Lady” and “Two Love” have started, you’ll have figured out this EP is, essentially, a collection of really fun and supremely executed pop songs. And they generally all seem to be about the romantic side of life.
In its demo form, “Two Love” charted in my Top 10 of the year for 2009, and rightly so. There’s something very Motels-esque about this – in melody and production, it’s actually almost like a dancier version of this absolute classic. These are the kind of songs you hear that instantly just hit the spot. Out of the four tracks on here, “Two Love” is not only the best on “Balmy Nights”, it’s also the most accomplished and fresh-sounding.
“Balmy Nights” is a pop record. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make pop music. It’s the kind of thing that should be encouraged. If Matt had turned around and made an EP full of rock-cum-indie-cum-dance anthems, provided they were good I would still have been on board, but perhaps not as excited as I have been about this batch of tunes.
Van She give us excellent material that falls into that aforementioned sub-genre; so I want something different from a solo project. And Matt’s definitely stepped up. Most people would kill for a debut pop release to sound this swish, slick and to just work as well as it does.
Buy this because I want a full-length album. I have a feeling Matt’s going to blow our minds with whatever he does next.