I head north to Scotland to shine my spotlight on audiodeluxe, an indie music duo making some really wonderful alternative electronic dream pop, with elements of rock, shoegaze and EDM. They are Sammy McHugh on vocals and Dez Bone on all music. Their bio on Soundcloud is so colorful that, rather than try to paraphrase, I’ll just quote it here in its entirety:
“Audiodeluxe are a couple of part time musical geniuses from a small but ever expanding village near Glasgow. They started writing songs together some time in the 90s and no one has forced them to stop yet. They have many influences ranging from the mighty Depeche Mode and Radiohead to Rage Against the Machine and the timeless Monty Python. They have also been brainwashed along the way by their crazy hippy parents and rather bizarre friends. They both exist happily writing tunes and turning out for the occasional gig. It’s a fine life really!”
The couple had early success with their music offerings, including local and international radio airplay, as well as licensing by the Fox sports channel for use in its broadcasts. After a period of hiatus while starting a family, they’ve recently resurrected their creative efforts, with an emphasis on growing their audience by independently releasing their music on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.
Dez Bones employs complex synthesizers to create a rich, ethereal sound, punctuated by gauzy atmospherics, psychedelic vibes or danceable grooves. The superb “Hold Me Back” has a fantastic electro-synth arrangement, while “The Day I Died” channels Depeche Mode, with its gorgeous sweeping synths. In “Treasure,” a simple, rather mournful guitar riff, accompanied by a hypnotic drumbeat, is overlain with sound effects like a train running on a track and what could be a flock of seagulls, resulting in a highly mysterious, otherworldly track. So too, with the psychedelic-tinged instrumental gem “Stringthing.”
McHugh’s vocal styling extends across a wide emotional range. Her beguiling, slightly off-kilter robotic vocals in “Hold Me Back” call to mind those of St. Vincent, whereas her breathy vocals in “Treasure” accentuate the song’s aura of mystery. In the beautiful black and white video, McHugh sings the song while standing on a beach, storm clouds gathering around her. “I’m going down deep inside, for treasure / Going to a place, you’ll never find it’s pleasure. Can’t wait to go, you’ll never know / Too late now / Go to sleep / Close your eyes.” Her vocals smolder with just the slightest bit of detachment in “Sunburned and Soaked” and “Too Late.”
One of my favorites is “How Long,” another great song with a strong Depeche Mode vibe. (Being a huge fan of Depeche Mode, it’s no surprise that I like audiodeluxe’s music so well.) The track’s seductive, synth-heavy groove set to a thumping beat, makes for an edgy, incredibly satisfying tune.