Bon Voyage

Bon Voyage

The Right Amount

Tooth & Nail

Your humble correspondent loves synth pop. From Heaven 17 to New Order, love it, love it, love it, love it. But now let’s get to Bon Voyage. For some reason, some of the other online reviewers think this is a synth pop band, for reasons that escape me (must be the smack! of the drum machines).

In truth, Bon Voyage — a collaboration between Jason Martin and his wife, Julie — owes a lot more to the bittersweet yet cheerful melancholia indie pop of the early ’90s (think Darling Buds or House of Love–if you had a good radio station near you at the time).

Lord knows sounding “dated” is not a sign of weakness to my ears — I like Robbie Williams and U2 as much as the next VH-1 watcher — but I do ask that they have something new to say with the older sound.

Jason Martin’s other band, Starflyer 59, does so; it sounds like it would have sounded good coming out of the radio ten, 15 years ago, but it’s also dreamy, playful and quirky. And — well, here’s something interesting. I was going to say that Bon Voyage also compared unfavorably with but reminded me of The Lassie Foundation, when a glance at the trusty All Music Guide reminded me that Julie Martin sang back up for that promising but flawed band which has, last I heard, gone their separate ways. Small world.

This album isn’t offensive, it’s just…thin. The songs have an average length of three minutes and seem even slighter, somehow. “The Third Marie” seems to be based on a reconfiguration of the James Bond theme in the verses, with 1972-era synthesizer sounds popping up in the chorus. Which is an idea that sounds pretty good on paper (or computer screen, as the case may be), but is more of a curiosity than even being a novelty on record.

A lot of pop music is light as a bubble, but some carries you away with it, and some you just lie there and watch ’em drift past. At best, Bon Voyage is what you should bid them as they walk off into the haze.

Tooth & Nail Records: http://www.toothandnail.com

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