Fast Idol by Black Marble

Release date: October 22, 2021
Label: Sacred Bones

Former Brooklyn artist and multi-instrumentalist Chris Stewart, aka Black Marble, now resides in Los Angeles, or at least, he recorded Fast Idol in that locale. His lovely, laid back synth pop stretches back stylistically to the days of OMD, Pet Shop Boys, and other bands of that ilk.

Elegant turns of phrase and warmly suffusing electronics are characteristic of those old bands, as well as Stewart’s work as Black Marble. This is his fourth studio album and his second for the Sacred Bones imprint. I came across his work when a friend alerted me to his last record. I adore well done synth pop, and this certainly fills the bill.

The six minute ‘Somewhere’ changes gears from a slow wave to perkier dance beats accompanied by Stewart’s vocals. ‘Bodies’ has a vintage 80s vibe, only with better production values. It’s also catchy as hell, though it may not be the happiest tune. ‘Royal Walls’ has a somewhat familiar riff that ushers in faint echoes of 70s disco and the requisite whiff of the 80s that permeates this entire album. 

‘Try’ does not break any new ground, but I dare you not to bob your head along with a tune that will suck you in. ‘The Garden’ is a bleak and unearthly soundscape, with the sound of a crowd in the background.

‘Say It First’ has a skein of glittering electronica at its heart, and is one of the prettiest outings here. ‘Ceiling’ is perhaps the most like my old favorites, Pet Shop Boys, and will transport you back to those halcyon days when this genre of music was birthed.

‘Ship to Shore’ hosts a dub beat that anchors this song, always holding it together while the other layers of this tune fly in all directions. And oh boy, ‘Preoccupation’ is a fun time, with some cool percussion propelling things along. The final ‘Brighter and Bigger’ is a slower piece, and things ramp down quickly to a solid finish.

This is a very good synth pop record, and anyone enamoured of this genre or any of the bands mentioned herein should run out and get this. 

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