Review Summary: A powerful album that is a futurepop essential.
Assemblage 23, aka Tom Shear, is a man that has seemingly climbed the thick ropes to land where he has. He started off tinkering with various electronic acts before finally settling into EBM/Futurepop. Over the course of his career, he has been the most successful with those two genres the most, and has never failed to come unglued through the process of them. Defiance
, though, in a nutshell, never fails to escape the basic principle of a flaw; there’s not a single thing wrong, disjointed, or bad with this album. It’s truly a monumental album for the man and in my opinion, seen as an apex of his career. Tom expresses his feelings this time in a more mature way, with themes relating to loss, heartbreak, despair, and hope. That’s not to say he has never wrote a song deep or emotional, but he has never quite made an entire album devoted strictly towards “defying oneself” and overcoming an obstacle like he has with this one. It’s almost obviously seen enough from the album cover, but this album will almost definitely help you get past a rough spot in your life.
His sound hasn’t really changed through this album, he still has bouncy synthesizers, recognized 4/4 beats, and his major influence with Depeche Mode (mainly foreseen on the classic track, ‘Horizon’). More intelligent topics are covered this time around, and are a spiritual experience to make it short. His melodies are much more thought-provoking and creative too, and less simple, as witnessed on many tracks such as ‘Fallen Down’ and ‘Horizon.’ The album never falls short, and is frankly a futurepop essential.
In comparison to his previous albums, and even some of his albums in general, his voice on this one doesn’t sound like a monotonic robot and it basically feels like he’s alive, which I was pleasantly surprised with when I first heard this. I’m pretty sure he finally opened up heart with this one and really let his voice carry him on, because every song on here seems to feel daring and engaging; something that I’ve only found on a couple of his albums so far. The album as well has more of an upbeat and positive aspect compared to his other albums, which is something great too. Each track is distinguishably memorable and can hook you easily. With Tom Shear sounding truly passionate, soulful, and lyrically energized, this is by far one of his best.
His songs on this one are easy-on-the ear, warm, catchy, reflecting, and in my honest opinion, practically career-defining. Songs such as the hypnotizing ‘Horizon’, to the upbeat and dancefloor-based jam ‘Drive’, to the mellow ‘Cocoon’, to his most emotionally gripping yet mildly cheesy song ‘Fallen Down’, they are all his best and easily some of his most incomparable within his field of discography. There’s not a single song here that is confronting or difficult to listen to, they are inspiring and angelic.
As I see it, there’s not a single thing wrong with this album. It’s true beauty defined in an electronic angle, which blows me away, in all honesty. He’s very jaunty in this one and I’m almost certain he will uplift you in some way or how.