Stereospread’s James Hopkins and Sara Snyder have returned with Come Back Home, an honest three-song EP set that will make people dance and strip them of any pretense in the process.
The 80s-inspired retrosynthers/indie synthpop artists have always been among the least emotionally detached of similar groups and projects, but this time around their songs transcend even that into an infusion of both the very human and the sacred.
The music certainly contributes to that — there is a hybrid organic-synthetic sound to the drum machines and synthesizers, and plenty of complex and emotive arrangements. The guitars fly around the mix with an ethereal quality, not unlike some of the more spectral e-bow maneuvering of James Iha on The Smashing Pumpkins’ masterpiece Adore.
But what glues the songs to the soul, and also what makes them bleed when you slice them with a knife, is Snyder’s vocals. She has an expansive range that can convey the most tender moments, but she’s not afraid of going full-Gaga or full-Aretha when she needs to do so. There’s also a folksy, sort-of Gillian Welch-type nuance that shines through, offering a quixotic contrast to the minimalist synthesizer-driven music over which she sings.
“Come Back Home” is an appropriate title cut. It doesn’t just represent the collection in name, it speaks to the entire spirit and genome of the EP. Snyder and Hopkins don’t just record catchy songs — although they do and do it well — but they create emotional experiences that tie together the sacred and the profane and the divine and the human, all while making us feel everything from empathy and hope to sadness and reminiscence.
Musically, “Home” does all of that with a driving drum beat, a pulsating synth bass, some atmospheric metallic, crystalline, and heated synths, and a delicate handful of piano keys, later joined by a poignant guitar injection. When Snyder implores someone to “Come back home/I promise you will be loved” and follows it with some soulful chanting, she creates a grounded feeling in the listener. Sometimes we lose sight of ourselves, you know.
Overall, for a collection with three songs it sure packs a tender but powerful force that brings some humanity and spirituality to the dance floor. It also sand-blasts away the cynicism and masks we hide behind in the process.