The Netherlands are known for a lot of things – tulips, great speed skaters, an elaborate canal system, and being the birthplace of many of the great painter from the 17th to 19th Centuries. Vincent Van Gogh and Willem de Kooning are the two most well-known artists to come from the country that originally made the colour orange cool.
While the Dutch continue to produce some great painters and sculptors, its music scene is quietly thriving. It isn’t the mega-factory that is the United Kingdom or Sweden, but artists like Tiesto, Afrojack, and Anouk are international stars. Newcomers Ward & Sahraei are seeking to join this select group.
You recognize the names Ward & Sahraei, as they were featured on a previous Weekend Showcase. Their story is a familiar one in the music world. As high school friends brought together by a common love for Hellogoodbye, San Cisco, Vampire Weekend, Tegan & Sara, Marina and the Diamonds, and Grouplove, Verena Ward and Maral Sahraei decided to try their hand at creating music. For nearly a year, the two shared a handful of singles, and now they’ve released their debut EP, Talks.
The five-track compilation is centred on the two’s light, bubbly, yet intimate take on electro-pop. Despite the influences they’ve listed above, the EP sounds more like a blend of early Grimes and Young Galaxy mixed with ’80s pop of Tiffany, Bananarama, and Debbie Gibson and the innovative electro-pop coming out of Sweden. For instance, “Hot October” is a playful kaleidoscope of sound and techniques with Ward’s and Sahraei’s voices looping over one another while a set of simple beats and a lovely, melodic guitar riff is strummed in the foreground. “Anyway” and “Stories” are two other melodic gems – stuttering numbers with a ’60s pop vibe and catchy choruses that might surprisingly have you humming later on.
“Frenzy”, with a ukulele being strummed, is like a Hawaiian, folk-pop tune. It’s summery and fun. Another song that just sneaks up on you with its lovable pop melody. The opening track, meanwhile, “Talks”, is etched in the ’80s. The message of youthful innocence and independence would have been perfect on a one of the coming-of-age movies that occupied cinemas during that era.
Talks may not be pushing the envelope in terms of new sounds and approaches; however, it is taking something familiar and adding a fun and playful spin. It’s a reminder of what music is suppose to be – something to be enjoyed at all times and, when needed, to lift one’s spirits.
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