REVIEW: The 86 Olypmpics – “Love Tonight/Radio Heart”

When punk rock began gaining popularity in the mainstream, many fans wondered if the genre’s anti-establishment sentiments would be rendered useless. Sure it would be easier to obtain music from their favorite artists but at what cost? Hearing bands like Fear or Minor Threat on mainstream radio seems contradictory, but with acts like The Ramones and The Clash, there was no stopping the movement from gaining mass appeal. During this time in the late 70s, a seemingly ‘alternative’ to punk was in the works from the ground up. A genre that shares the devil-may-care attitude from the punks but also the flamboyance of early Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie coupled with the cold, synthetic attributes of European dance music. Enter New Wave.

Early in it’s inception, New Wave focused on the darker themes of loneliness and angst with bands like Depeche Mode and Ministry, but once this new sub-genre hit mainstream popularity itself, the music wasn’t diluted and soulless like mainstream punk acts had become. Instead the genre embraced the aesthetics of dance music and became the signature sound of the 1980s!

In recent years, there’s been somewhat of a New Wave revival. In the early 2000s, acts like The Killers and Franz Ferdinand adapted the throw-back sound of the 80s and received both critical and financial acclaim, while helping ushering in a movement some called New New Wave. Fast forward to 2016, there’s no denying the the 1980s flavor that makes up most of what’s being labeled alternative rock. One of more promising bands of this movement is Hattiesburg, Mississippi’s The 86 Olympics.

The 86 Olympics have crafted a sound that’s just as nostalgic for the painted faces and asymmetrical hair-dos of 30 years ago, as it is fresh and exciting like modern 1980s influenced glitz and glam of acts such as M83 and Daft Punk. It’s synth heavy pop music acting as an alternative to the alternative rock that’s currently playing on all mainstream stations.

On their  double-sided  vinyl debut, Love Tonight/Radio HeartThe 86 Olympics know exactly which songs to pull the listener into their world synth pop perfection. Side A’s “Love Tonight” recalls the illuminated dance floors of Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall album with the monotonous coolness of Gary Numan before ripping into a falsetto chorus so catchy, both Justin Timberlake and Adam Levine will retire simultaneously upon their first listen.The flip side is Radio Heart, a slick medium tempo jam that puts the focus on Andrew James Glose and Jaime A. Jimenez’s knack for synthesized grooves and masterful production without compromising the beauty of a simple pop song. Both tracks are tasteful, hook heavy and all around fun without being campy or outdated.

Despite so much emphasis on 1980s influence, these two tracks aren’t exactly nostalgia trips. It might harken back to a certain decade but make no mistake; Love Tonight/Radio Heart is just as fresh and commercially relevant as any mainstream act who utilizes the same influences. It really says more about what people loved about the New Wave genre in the first place. A style of music that was more complex than standard pop conventions, but still enough angst and attitude to keep it from being cold and corporate.

Love Tonight/Radio Heart is available on vinyl in 3 special color variants, exclusively at Deal With The Devil Records Friday, May 13th. If you love anything from 1980s pop culture, or just fun synth heavy pop music, The 86 Olympics is the band you’ve been waiting for. Pick this record up, you won’t be disappointed.

For more info on The 86 Olympics, visit their Facebook page.

To purchase Love Tonight/Radio Heart and want to learn more about the creative indie label releasing it, visit Deal With The Devil Records

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Aaron The Audiophile

Son, brother, uncle, musician. I enjoy music of all genres, shapes and sizes, preferably the good kind.

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