The Orlando based duo consisting of the dainty singer and keyboard player Madeline Priest and producer and guitarist David Kazyk formed in 2013.
They started experimenting with electronic beats and soon signed to the Stockholm based Emotion label in December 2013.
After their successful EP ‘Samurai’, the LP is an evolution to their sound, which is said to take its influences from DEPECHE MODE, DURAN DURAN, TEARS FOR FEARS, KATE BUSH, PAT BENATAR, STEVIE NICKS, and more recently CHVRCHES, PHANTOGRAM and GWEN STEFANI. Madeline has described the production as “dreamy-kind of up in the clouds”.
‘The Game’ has a ringing sound reminiscent of TEARS FOR FEARS. The cheerful vocals enhance the song’s coherent melody with its interesting string elements and candied synth combos. The provocative line “if that’s not enough, we’ll always have tonight” almost contradicts Madeline’s girly voice, making the tune more sexy sounding.
‘Heartbeats’ enters with poppy beats and candied digitally enhanced vocals, yet somehow is uninspired and laboured. This is followed by ‘White Nights’, which bears a gentle melody with more coherent elements and a softer voice which seems to lend itself better to slower tunes like this one. The instrumentation is also richer and sharpened, making it one of the better tracks on the album. ‘Staring At The Walls’ features an electronically enhanced voice once more, over a sweet, sugary-synth background. It comes over as naive and in dire need of maturity, both musically and lyrically. The gentle synth elements are ear engaging, yet sadly, instantly forgettable.
‘Broken’ is lyrically stronger and its electronic melody interspersed with DURAN DURAN -type guitar elements are establishing this track as one of the highlights on the album. The ending uncanningly rings of DEPECHE MODE influences.
‘Strong Hearts’ according to Madeline, has the qualities of their new “evolving sound”. A systematic track with autotune enhanced vocals is care free, but somehow unimaginable. Pleasing to the ear, however, it has all the elements of a decent synth tune.
‘When The Strings Are Gone’ opens with a section reminiscent of MADONNA’s ‘Holiday’, and instantly places the tune in line with songs of that era. Heavily manufactured and bearing the signs of how songs used to be produced a couple of decades ago in New York’s studios, it is barely current, but it may well appeal to a younger generation of electronica listeners.
‘Day Drinking’ continues with the retro production, practically indistinguishable from the previous track, while ‘Waiting For The End To Come’ comes heavy with bell sounds and sustains the character of the record; predictable and inconspicuous. ‘Lying On Your Grave’ closes the production, with the continuation of the candy floss voice, depicting a more serious lyrical content, leaving the listener unimpressed however.
PRIEST certainly possess all the necessary ingredients to engage the listener with catchy synth tunes and young sounding, delicate female vocals. However, the duo have yet to prove worthy to be placed alongside the classic legends they cite as their influences, only time can tell if they will. As a first album, ‘Priest’ is a competent record with fair amount of adequate tunes. Notwithstanding, it lacks the necessary confidence to be distinguished between the acceptable and brilliant. The “dreamy” description by Madeline is spot on; the production is easy listening and relaxing.
If you’re in need of a simple, undisturbed pleasure, then this is your tool. Interestingly enough, the ‘Samurai’ EP was more gutsy and wholesome; with ‘Priest’, one imagines a cloud-free Florida sky to a soundtrack that perhaps is more TAYLOR SWIFT than GWEN STEFANI.
‘Priest’ is released by Emotion and available now via the usual digital outlets including iTunes
Text by Monika Izabela Goss
5th May 2015