Finnish darkwave, electronica artist Jaani Peuhu has successfully combined these musical elements with his pop sensibility in his latest full-length album, Tear Catcher. On the heels of his cover EP, Echo Chamber, which opened the doors to this side of his creative personality, tracks on the new album are a playground of beats and digital instrumental productions that have been meticulously thought out and yet flow effortlessly. The only word that coming to mind was sophisticated. However, there is nothing snobby about the record. It is easily and quickly connectable. Even in really orchestral productions, they’re not there to intimidate a listener. Peuhu creates this large well-dressed stage for the song to play out on, to make jaws drop and captivate an audience.
Like all good pop music should be, there are really ear-wormy melodies. “My Skies” is one of them. It sets its hooks in quickly and will becomes something to listen to multiple times without getting bored of it. “I Believe”, despite its slightly darker personality, still has a great sing-along chorus.
The other distinct characteristic of this album is Peuhu’s unfiltered emotions. “Unspoken Loss” uses the darkwave undertone to put his heart out there, scars and all and speaks sincerely of love and the pain it brings. The emotion is recreated in the melody, arrangement and the lyrics.
This kind of “heart on my sleeve” honesty continues in “Mercy Kiss”. One has to be impressed with Peuhu’s ability to take a concept like the theme of this track and turn it into a toe-tapping alt-pop song. The production effects on this song are particularly dramatic in wonderful ways.
“Maybe God Is Asleep” brought back memories of a conversation with this artist about his spiritual and religious backgrounds. These lyrics definitely come from the soul. The track starts out acoustic. It will be interesting to see if in live performances, Jaani will do the whole song with just a guitar. The lyrics are strong so it could really give a different perspective on the song…something intimate that will pull the audience even closer.
The most Théâtre Dramatique number closes the album in a grand finale. “Desire” paints a picture of a huge stage with a set of black, wiry leafless trees, long strips of dark, translucent fabric moving in the breeze and everything in shades of black, blue and purple. The curtain closes and one leaves having loved the play but with an understanding that not all stories are “happily-ever-after”. It is a reality check done so well.
Tear Catcher is a rollercoaster of emotions and there is no issue with riding it over and over. The dips and curves are met with exciting inclines with amazing views at the top. After the ride, the listener steps back and appreciates the technology, architecture and beauty of the construction. This album is a great way to start 2015 and sets the bar pretty high for what is to come this year in these genres.