Nettwerk Records · February 8, 2019
The consistently cold angst felt throughout this album makes machineheart worthy of its namesake.
It is difficult to categorize a moody concoction of electronic synths with indie rock undertones into a particular genre. In machineheart’s debut album People Change, Stevie Scott’s high-pitched and delicate voice bares consistently grungy lyrics that could have been taken from your high school diary. Evocative and catchy, this debut yields ethereal nostalgia for our generation.
The album’s songs are unified by a slowed down rhythm that rings like 90’s rock with melodies and vocals that somehow remind me of post-country Taylor Swift meets Sia fused with Stevie Nicks, complemented by a soft beat, strum or synths. A concoction indeed, but the familiar choruses are reminiscent of their first EP Cruel World — regardless of one’s taste, it is clear that the LA-based band has created a signature sound for themselves.
With depressing lyrics, Scott pours emotion into her words as it is no surprise that the album was co-produced by Jim Abbiss, who has also worked with Adele and the Arctic Monkeys: two similar bands that certainly get us in our feelings. The consistently cold angst felt throughout the album makes machineheart worthy of its namesake.
Soft violins and synths open the album and quickly turn into a sad psychedelic hymn of love. “Who said it’s over now? Who said we don’t know how? …Who said it’s all been done? / Long way ’til kingdom come / I won’t give up on us / I’ll be waiting here ’til the stars fall down.” Scott introduces her first album with words all too familiar to the souls of hopeless romantics. She transports us through the endless and tiring battle of passionate unrequited love.
Each song starts slow and builds to a long melodic chorus, always soothing—but the song “People Change” (also the name of the album) slows down electronic indie to a different level. The song is without a doubt written as a coming of age anthem for the millennial: “We’re gettin’ older, no taking back those hours.” The chorus discusses growing apart and accepting the inevitable. “People always change and we’ll never be like we were before/ Try to stay the same but we’re banging our heads against the wall…Hard to say it’s so, but I think we’re better off on our own.”
If there are any hints of pop in the album, “Altar” is where a sprinkle of Taylor Swift shines through. The catchy tune is another desperate love song that sways to a soft guitar strum and drum beat. The lyrics are strange, suggesting that she is running to the altar and praying desperately for love…T Swizzle where you at?
“Kill a Man” is where machineheart turns experimental, featuring voice alteration, sound effects and slow, transportive synths. “Did I kill a man?” she asks, “Let’s cut the chains and move on, let’s cut the chains and move on.” Scott puts on her bad-ass hat as the song embodies the epitome of grunge.
While People Change brings together several different sounds, there is a unique homogeny to their quasi-self-created genre, making it quite difficult to distinguish the songs from each other. Nevertheless, the choruses are consistent in their soft, ethereal nature with emotionally charged lyrics and a clear consistent sound.