Mystic Hotline is the latest release from San Francisco quintet Latitude, and it’s full of classic power pop/rock tunes with a distinct sound that will take you back to from 60’s all the way through the 80’s. The band mixes elements from classic rock, folk and synth pop in their own concoction filled with sweet hooks and melodies. One that could be likened to acts such as The Go Go’s, Blondie and The Bangles.
What stands out in this record is in its composition. Songwriter, singer and guitarist Amy Fowler builds each song with intricately woven lines of synths, guitars and bass, resulting in a kaleidoscopic effect where riffs slowly build and form into one big tapestry. Isolate each element and you’ll find them to be simple and rudimentary, but combine them all together and you’ll notice the colors shine and glitter in a lush soundscape.
Although most songs exhibit a fun and vibrant mood to them, there’s a dark undertone that suggests anxiety in its narratives. These are after all, songs written in the present time — in a world full of unease and uncertainty. Such can be found in “Damage Control”, where an expressed need for escaping the world is conveyed: “The telephone blinks \ And the new news things \ Got nowhere to hide”. A similar sentiment is followed by “Thursday Is The New Sunday” where we find the narrator wanting nothing more but for the week to end already: “Call me up honey \ This dirty old city \ It’ll grind us to the bone”.
This sentiment follows through the jangly and psychedelic “Leaving the Galaxy” where they finally manage to find a way out the door: “Baby, the drooling dogs at your feet / They’re on your scent of dead meat / So keep on trying / Looking for a brand new galaxy”. Apart from the starry coalescing of synths and guitars, its melody is so calm and relaxing that it feels more like a magical mystery tour instead of an escape from a doomed world.
And this is what I find really alluring about this record. There’s a balance of the simple and complex, of the carelessness and angst. The closing tracks “I Love The Radio” and “Dead End Fantasy” exhibit these qualities the most, with the former being a nostalgic blast to the past while the latter is a burning ode to a world under fire. If Latitude isn’t still on your radar, then go ahead and check out your yellow pages for the Mystic Hotline.