So last weekend, advance ticket buyers of Simon Curtis' upcoming EQ Live show on May 14th were treated to an exclusive first listen of the pop maestro's new album "R∆" in which the man himself introduced each song from his own bedroom in LA – unmade bed and all.
"R∆" still remains slightly unfinished, un-mastered and some of the tracks we mention below may not even end up on the final track-listing. Needless to say, what we heard, we very much loved and the listening party experience only heightened the excitement further around Simon's new release and upcoming London debut performance at EQ Live on May 14th.
EQ's Marc Ridley summed up his thoughts on “R∆” after the listening party and here is what he thought about one of pop's most anticipated new albums of 2011.
Make sure to follow Marc on Twitter @marcridley.
A few tickets are still available for EQ Live with Simon Curtis, Andrea Lewis and Ro Danishei on May 14th – sponsored by Kinect for Xbox 360. Make sure to check out the Upcoming EQ Live Events section to get your tickets for the pop extravaganza!
“R∆”by Simon Curtis Review
If you were at our exclusive listening party for Simon Curtis’ brand new album, you’ll already have a pretty good idea of just how good “R∆” is. But now it’s time for EQ’s review of the release and as you are fully aware, we’ve been waiting for this one.
"8bit Heart", the debut album, set out a mission statement for the Simon Curtis project. It was undeniably pop, beyond competition in terms of electro brilliance, and delivered a perfect introduction to an as-yet-untapped source of songwriting creativity. “R∆” always had to be something more, and it is. It’s more refined, more perfected, yet still leaves you feeling like you’ve discovered something new and uniquely brilliant.
“Chip in Your Head” is a staunchly robotic opener, with a whispery spoken-word intro which gives way to a strident, self-confident anthem. It’s an early album highlight and shows you the best of what Simon can offer: the perfect match of quality vocals and effortless electronic pop production.
“The Dark II” is another stand-out track. Its ingenious melody and ice-cool club production bring you all the commercial energy of a Top 40 record but with a gritty undercurrent of undeniable credibility; its appeal is in its completeness and its solidity. Simon even told us that this is the sequel to the track of the same name on "8bit Heart".
“R∆” takes a dubstep turn in the albums first single “Don’t Dance”, with Simon’s narrow-eyed, deathly focused lyrics, showing us that Curtis is very much at the centre of his own show. The track also shows off Simon’s expert ear for harmonies.
“Enemy” balances a stern, spat-out, lyric-led verse with a yearning and soaring chorus. It’s as driving as it is dizzying, as celestial as it is sensitive. Matched up with more winning production, it’s tracks like this which show that Simon is an all-round master of electro pop music. Perhaps EQ's favorite song on the new album, "Enemy" is a strong track, one that we hope makes the albums final cut.
Moments of difference come with the album’s quieter track. “Starlight”, produced with Ellie Goulding favourite Frankmusik, is solemn and piano-led, showing the rare sensitivity of Simon’s vocals alongside his superb songwriting talent. It offers a suitable amount of vulnerability amongst all the bravado of the album’s louder pieces. “Pit of Vipers”, meanwhile, shows off robotic rhythms and clockwork intricacy, souped-up with another tough, overpowering chorus.
“Get in Line” was a favourite at the EQ listening party. It stands alone and should be treated as such; it’s a militaristic approach to a crowd anthem – heavy drums and affecting rhythms with a chorus which is set to be screamed back towards the stage at his live shows.
Perhaps the most single-worthy tracks on the album are "Laser Guns Up" with its uber catchy chorus and pulsating dark synths which establish Simon as the main player in the game of P.O.P. "Wicked Baby" is probably the "most pop" track on the album and is a sparkly duet featuring gal pal and hot noteworthy pop newcomer Ro Danishei.
Both as a collection of tracks and an album as a whole, “R∆” is a gift to devoted Curtis fans and yet another reason for new listeners to jump aboard the bandwagon. It’s packed with winning melodies, angry choruses and has all the might of mega-production behind it.
And with “R∆”, Simon picks up the precedent set by “8bit Heart” and marches into the future with an arsenal of awesome tracks to throw back at the world. Like many on the album, “Get in Line” is a track which truly shows “R∆” for what it is: a call to arms for his faithful followers for the electro pop cause.