Despite the gargantuan, often overbearing, scope of modern electronic music, many of the genre’s artists have taken it upon themselves to drop anchor in the ‘80s. Seth Haley is one such example, venturing Marty McFly-like to the middle of the decade and hauling along with him an array of 21st-century advancements in digital technology to blend with vintage, synth-heavy dance sounds. Com Truise is a fitting spoonerism for Haley, as Tom Cruise gained much of his notoriety during the decade whose sound Haley strives to emulate and update.
Haley’s first EP, Cyanide Sisters, was released at the beginning of this year and it’s the minimal gap between that and his debut LP, Galactic Melt, that mars the effectiveness of an otherwise solid album. A feeling of déjà vu courses throughout the latter half of the album; everything tends to meld together into a mass of electronic noise nearly identical to that found on the earlier EP. Essentially, Galactic Melt is Cyanide Sisters 2.0. If Haley had never released Cyanide Sisters, if he’d waited until closer to the end of the year before dropping a full-length LP, or even if he opted to combine the material from the EP with the batch of songs presented here, Galactic Melt could have been something of a distinguishable triumph.
It’s a testament to the strength of Cyanide Sisters that Galactic Melt‘s impact is diminished ever so slightly by the two releases’ similarities, because without the unavoidable comparison, Galactic Melt is a thoroughly well-made and rewarding listen. The word that comes to mind while exploring the space-junk free zones of Haley’s latest effort is unquestionably “confidence.” The four-song knockout of “VHS Sex,” “Cathode Girls,” “Air Cal,” and “Flightwave” is a marvel to behold. “VHS Sex” opens with a bit of glitchy clamor, and then a sultry female voice creeps in, intertwining with sleekly glazed keyboards and thick percussion. “VHS sex,” she repeats throughout, which might seem annoying on paper, but Haley is so self-assured in his arrangement that the vocals fuse themselves flawlessly into the balancing act of drums and synths.
The three tracks that follow are just as strong, and it’s only amid the album’s second act that Haley’s winning streak begins to diminish. This isn’t to say that the voluptuous “Hyperlips,” the effortlessly funky “Brokendate,” or the joyously erratic “Futureworld” are lackluster. Taken out of context, these would make fine additions to any synth-based party mix. It’s simply that Haley seems to be needlessly repeating himself when it’s abundantly clear from the splendid first half of the album that he’s capable of expanding his range beyond ‘80s synth-pop homage. As it stands, Galactic Melt is a meticulously crafted offering that, due to the tremendous promise exhibited by Cyanide Sisters, falls short of expectations.