Label: Disturbing Music – Rating:
Geoff Westen’s “Vidiots– Tune In” is a record that, for better or for worse, successfully emulates and repackages 80s power pop. If that sounds like your bag, put the top down on your LeBaron convertible, press play and blast away.
All the elements are there; the blistering guitar solo on “Better Get Started,” the echo-ladened lamenting on She’s So Young, the Devo inspirited rhythm on “Don’t Stop The Kiss.” What makes this record great is it’s unflinching dedication to polish. Not one song on the record will make the listener wonder why it was included.
Some standouts: “Angry Young Men,” a harder edged-punk inspired ditty about.. well angry young men. “Action Man” is an upbeat party tune, focusing on heading out Saturday nights and “forgetting about depression.” This song reminds me of the band Squeeze in that you have heard their songs hundreds of times and danced along to them, but most of their hits have some really sad themes (Up the Junction.)
There are some oddballs like “Women Dominate,” an insecure ode to the heartbreak and trials of love set over haunting synth and Together, a frenetic, paranoid call to arms. Overall, Geoff Westen took a style of music that is a bit dusty, and produced a catchy, accessible LP that, like pointillism in art, is best appreciated a few feet back.
There were two things that I had qualms with. Whenever an artists attempts an album like this, it automatically draws itself up to comparison against the best records of that genre. With that in mind, synthpop has had some very distinctive artists and can someone in 2009 actually out-Devo, Devo? For me, the success of the album boiled down to whether Westen was taking himself seriously or having glorious, synth backed, montage of the 80s.
At first it was perplexing to hear an album like this. However, after giving the album multiple listens, I am convinced that Vidiots– Tune In settles on well written love songs, with tongue firmly planted in cheek . I wouldn’t call this retro or neo synth because there isn’t any growth from the basic formula, but the album has really grown on me. It is the kind of record that comes along with no assumptions and brings a smile to your face. It stands as a testament to Westen’s dedication to his music, as well as showcasing his multifaceted talent.