Russia based post-punk / new wave outfit Motorama released their new LP Before The Road early in 2021. The album is cold and beautiful, filled with soaring synths and lush vocals that weave through somber and idyllic guitars. Before the Road blends poetry and gentle post-punk together into a collection of songs that speaks of a journey through a massive expanse. Themes of celestial bodies and sprawling skyscapes are explored in this 7 track LP, with several allusions to going further beyond what one is capable of. All wrapped in a package of wondrous synths and great reverb that soars and glides, encompassing the epic scope of its narrative’s breadth.
Opener “Tower” talks about the architecture of Moscow. Our narrator stands atop a tower while marveling at the view below: “Holding to the spire / See those kids, men, and women / Spikes of wheat and flowers.” The music is overall somber, but there’s a tranquil vibe to it that makes the cold reverb feel like a warm embrace. “Pole Star” rises even higher with an upbeat drive, chilling melodies and otherworldly synth pulses. This song refers to Polaris whose “shine will never end / for both sides of the world.” Although the song hums with a soft longing, the presence of the north star grounds the whole record — providing a reference point for the rest of the songs. This is especially true in the airy and morose “Azure Height”, where the melody swoops and dives into greater heights, accompanied by divine imagery in its lyrics: “Sun at the zenith / cranes in the sky / The dead will return / and we will not die.”
The wonderful thing about this LP is how connected everything is to the thematic journey vocalist Vladislav Parshin is describing. This is what makes the record stand out among its peers. Even with its dark and goth-adjacent pallet, Before The Road does not dwell with suffering and sorrow. Instead it brushes through them and acknowledges their presence, all the while pressing on to move forward.
We see this in the later “Voyage” and “Sailor’s Song” which can be seen as sister songs. “Voyage” is filled with crystalline riffs and soothing bass lines that flow like silk. Here we find the narrator wishing to step out of their comfort zone: “Better late than never / Out of my hermetic life”. The latter “Sailor’s Song” is a song of anticipation and longing, where we are taken back to the sea in a lavish appreciation of the ocean depths. One that the sailor describes as “my bride”.
Before The Road offers a fresh perspective to a well-loved old school genre. Their sounds are stark and chilling, yet there’s an almost stoic air to it that enables the band to lean into positive themes. If Motorama isn’t in your radar yet, make sure to check them out. They might just round out your post-punk collection.