Review Summary: A modern electronic classic.
When an album is able to transcend the arbitrary barriers that we as listeners put up when deciding what music we prefer, and by doing this is able to draw listeners who strongly dislike the "genre" it belongs to, it is a sign of a great album. I am that person. I have never enjoyed electronic music, I'm more of a hard rock and rock kind of guy. The only group I've enjoyed is c2c, because of their unique style which appealed to me. I dabble in Synthpop, the soundtrack to the movie "Drive," for example, I enjoy more or less because of the movie. So if anything, I have had a strongly negative opinion on electronic music before.
I came across the first track on this album, "By Your Side," on accident, a result of a typo while browsing Spotify. However, when I heard it, I instantly knew I wanted more. The upbeat tempo, hypnotic vocals, and perfectly composed synths thoroughly entertained me. I immediately listened to the album, and was not disappointed. The decision to open the album with "By Your Side" was a smart one, as it ensnares the listener with it's infectious beat and fun electronic sound, and is probably the strongest track on the record. It flows perfectly into the title track "Chiptune Memories." Similarly, it has a more upbeat sound, and a well put together bass line to hold it together. It's lyrics tell some kind of story, but it's difficult to focus on them, even while reading them, as the music takes so much command of your attention. I also have the feeling that they aren't really for the purpose of conveying meaningful messages in a lot of the songs, as I believe they are more for the purpose of showcasing the vocalist. I did some research and can't find out who Lain Volta Trzaska got to do the vocals, but damn if they don't nail it on every song. The vocals never grate on your ears, and the harmonizations in tracks such as "Nostalgic Vibes" sound majestic, atmospheric, and nothing short of beautiful.
After doing that research, I saw on the group's website that "every sound, including the drums were generated from old microchips with the exception of vocals and one pad sound each song." Note, I don't know much about electronic music, but that sounds impressive. And even if that isn't impressive, the fact that this album is able to use 8bit sounds and chiptune without ever causing the listener to be anything less than thoroughly enjoying themselves is impressive. Not only that, but Lain is able to avoid the common album pitfall of having too similar sounding songs. Every song shines with a different feel and groove, and they are all well executed. Songs like "Meet Me There" and "Bleedthrough" slow down and focus on an atmospheric serenade of synth and harmonized vocals, while songs like "Artificial Love" and "Glitch Me On" focus on speeding up the pace and having infectious rhythms, and they all succeed. The mixing, producing, composing, and direction of this album was very well thought out and put together. Even the track placement is perfect, having no clumping of fast and slow songs, as just when you might get even the slightest bit bored with the quicker tempos, a more melodic song changes things up. There is nothing I have to say negative about this album, it has proved to me how amazing some electronic music can be, and I could not be more proud to say this is by far my favorite release of 2015.