The23s – Single Review: “Never Be The Same”

Hailing from Sheffield, England are The 23s, a collaborative music project comprised of singer-songwriter and electronica musician Rob Cohen, singer-songwriter Rob Gurruchaga, and producer Tom Taylor. Cohen has previously been a member of other bands and also collaborated with producer/musician Jody Wildgoose on their 2015 album BloochyKoo, released under the music project WildCohen (I reviewed one of the album’s tracks “Jackson’s Son”). He was approached in late 2021 by Taylor and Gurruchaga, who pitched their idea for a new collaborative music project The 23s, named after Taylor’s Channel 23 Studio.

With a shared love of acts like David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Blaqk Audio, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, The Cure and Thomas Dolby, the enigmatic trio clicked right from the start, and began working on song demos which they shared across the internet from their home studios in Sheffield. Eventually, they gathered in person at Taylor’s Channel 23 Studio to put the final touches and overdubs on what will be a full album of genre-bending anthems addressing these troubled times, steeped in feelings of fear and anxiety. Using analog synthesizers and synth guitars, they create melodic indie electro-pop arrangements that are mesmerizing, yet accessible.

Today, they share the fruits of their labor with the release of their debut single “Never Be The Same“, and plan to follow with a new single release each month. The song starts off with a rather unsettling electronically-altered sci-fi sounding vocal repeating lines I can’t make out, accompanied by ominous gentle synths. Rob’s clear vocals soon enter as he croons “The pain washes the world away, believe me when I say, everything has changed, it’ll never be the same. Never, Never be the same.” The music expands into a darkly beautiful soundscape of swirling synths, crisp percussive beats and gorgeous guitar notes. Though melancholy in tone, the beauty of the instrumentation offers glimmers of hope. The song is marvelous, and a very promising sign of what we can expect with their forthcoming singles.

The compelling video features vintage black and white footage of school children practicing those nonsensical duck-and-cover drills that were common in Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere in the 1950s as fears of atomic bomb attacks grew in response to the escalating arms race.

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