Cygnets mix upbeat synth with dark lyrics

'Dance party feel'
 // Photo supplied
'Dance party feel' // Photo supplied

Local electronic New Wave darlings Cygnets will transport you far from our frozen city. This three-piece will fill you with nostalgia for the ’80s and early ’90s. However, with vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Logan Turner’s sombre/thematic lyrics, it’s hard not think of a dark, dystopian world.

“That’s always been a very specific underlying theme in our music. That bleak futuristic, dystopia feel that we haven’t looked for intentionally,” Turner says.

Cygnets’ sound has certainly changed since their early self-titled EP, with an evolution from bright synth pop into something darker.

“Logan is much more confident in expressing really dark stuff in a very direct way with his lyrics. So there’s that marriage of really upbeat fun music with depressing lyrics,” adds synth player Dan Snow.

That marriage is probably the most recognizable trait of ’80s New Wave music. Bands like Joy Division, The Smiths, and Depeche Mode were known for playing upbeat music underneath dark lyrics.  It’s no wonder their sound—mixed with Turner’s Ian Curtis/Morrissey-esque voice—is often compared to bands from that era.

The guitar work adds another flavour to Cygnets’ diverse sonic landscape. It can be very hard to pick out in certain songs, but Chris Bruce’s sound is very reminiscent of that early shoegaze tone that may be found in bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain.

“There’s always that element of guitar that’s heavy in our sound with a sort of noise and ambience setting. I think our goal right now is to make a lot more sounds that are not as straightforward with that depth and etherealness to them,” Turner says.

Texture and layering is prominent in the Cygnets’ sound. There is always so much happening. One synth melody could be greeted with two others underneath effects-driven guitar. 

It all comes from Turner’s ‘maximalist’ approach to music. Usually he will have the foundations of a song written, with parts missing. The band then writes those parts together, adding layers to each song.

The band’s music videos are both songs found on their newest album Alone/Together.

The video for “I’m Sorry (So Sorry)” features the band having “absolutely no fun” in various fun places around Edmonton, such as West Edmonton Mall.

“Icons,” is a bit more dramatic. The  band fights leaves their jam space to burn their instruments in a self-constructed bonfire.

“The videos are just another form of artistic expression, another way to express those concepts of creation and destruction found in our music,” Snow says.

“We all grew up in the MTV generation where you would actually tune in to watch a music video. You would always associate a band you like with a music video. That was very ’90s or early ’80s and I think the Internet has really brought back music videos,” Turner adds.

Their live show is just as entertaining. Snow head bangs while laying out some dynamic synth melodies, and there’s no breaks between songs.

“It’s always a very passionate performance. We love having the songs bleed into each other to have that dance party feel.”

Thurs., Dec. 15 (8pm)

The Needle, free

Stephan Boissonneault

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