Powerplant has taken synth-punk and created a highly diverse and intriguing exploration of its styles in People in the Sun. What started out as a solo bedroom operation has now blossomed into a full live band that can stand up to its peers. People in the Sun is a bombardment of textures and tones where chaotic elements are put into a pot, slow-cooked to the point of perfection. Imagine if all your 80’s appliances like you VHS, cassette players and analog synths all decided to start an uprising from the scrap yard to form a punk band. The result is brilliant and stupendous.
At first listen it feels like a chaotic hodgepodge of sounds thrown into a kitchen sink, but diving deep one can’t help but appreciate the diversity of sound design poured into this project, not to mention how well it was mixed together into a nice blend of genres from garage to new wave. Gritty drum pads that came straight out of our mate’s basement, synths that screech from blasted out speakers, video game blaster sounds, and overall lush soundscapes. If you’re new to the sounds of synth-punk there’s no better place to jump in.
“Hey Mr. Dogman!” opens the record with blistering garage rock rhythms and fuzzy synths that serve as a replacement to guitar. It’s sweat and noise at its finest, with electronics that give it a glossy sheen. Tracks like “Snake Eyes” and “In White” follow in the same vein with three-chord hook-filled punk over synths on bubbling acid.
But Powerplant doesn’t stick to the same formula for long. “True Love” could have easily been a straight synth pop ballad, except every instrument has gone haywire – wrapped up in some bizzare technobabble that’s mind-bendingly weird and pleasant. “Dungen” has the most melodic synth riff in the record, with equal parts fuzz and glimmer pulling at each other with great contrast.
Yet to me the greatest surprise is in the later cuts “Take My Money!” and “In the Garden” which takes on the darker tones of goth and darkwave. The former tones down the fuzz in favor of lush soundscapes. The latter plays with the genre in a bizarre twist, from the over-the-top-vocal delivery to the quirky electronics – everything feels almost tongue-in-cheek.
It’s unique, it’s playful and it’s impossible to get bored with. Get lost in the world of People in the Sun where punk is in a parallel universe of electronica.