A little over a year ago I was hitting Abbey Pub to see a Chicago act called My My My and got there a little early to make sure I didn’t miss them. When I walked in, The Roalde Dahls were on stage. I’d never heard of them, and it took me a minute, but I got really into their set. Frontman Dylan Flynn was all over the place-laying on the stage, down on his knees, just laying it all out there. It was a decent crowd, but not too big. He was just performing his ass off for those who decided to come. For a while I was pretty transfixed just on him. I started looking around a bit and realized the guy on synths, Nikko Paoulos was just as into it as Flynn, stomping and rocking to the beat without losing control of what he was playing. I had a great time listening to them, going so far as calling them my new band crush (RIP Chaperone).
Now they’re back with a new EP called MKIII. It’s full of cool synth-pop and new wave jams to make you dance. They refer to themselves as Pokemon on their Facebook page, and they do give that video game vibe to their music. It’s like playing Zelda in your brain except it only takes 20 minutes and you get to move around. The tunes flow well, so it’s not like they just wrote a few songs and threw them together. None are too short or too long, each one finding its groove and concisely telling its story.
It builds from the desolate opening keys of “Aloysius” to the insane disco party in the middle of closer “Renaldo Moon” in such a way that feels almost like a good drama. By the time the climax hits you you’re invested in where the record is going to go and you don’t want to stop listening until MKIII is over. Even then, it’s easy to go right back to the beginning and give a more intense, detail-oriented listen. There are so many layers of things going on throughout the album you’re sure to find something you missed the first time around.
I really like the opening of “Blue Berrymore.” It’s dark and brooding, sure to please any fan of the Drive soundtrack or the work of Umberto or DJ Rob. Once the vocals come in it turns into something else-more of an LCD Soundsystem vibe. We go through some twists and turns in and out of the refrain, with Flynn’s vocals the constant on to which your ears can hold while you take this journey with the band.
The single from the record, “Grandpa Hands,” is a little more rock and roll. The guitar is pushed a little more out front, the drums hit a little harder, and they bring in some glorious horns. If MKIII were all like this, I don’t think the song would be as interesting, but it stands out from the other tunes and makes the EP a better listening experience. Paoulos’ synth breakdown that starts about a minute before the song ends adds a nice little kick that creeps up on you.
Their record release show tonight at Beat Kitchen is the only show they have listed right now, but keep your eyes peeled to their Facebook because you’ll definitely want to catch them live. For now, you can check out MKIII (PWYW) on Bandcamp.