Published Aug 05, 2014Dan Boeckner's decision to debut his new band through a series of shows, rather than a downloadable mixtape or a YouTube single or anything remotely digital, was a markedly old-school move. As an attempt to force listeners to encounter the music IRL, the ploy worked swimmingly — at least judging by the positive reaction to Operators' stellar performances at this year's CMW festival. The band's first set of take-home tunes, the five-track EP1, cracks the material half of that musical equation by delivering an infinitely re-listenable collection that should be flowing through headphones everywhere in no time.
With Operators, Boeckner has perfectly married the electro vibes of his critically adored Handsome Furs with the bastard-soul songwriting of Divine Fits, his 2012 collaboration with Spoon bandleader Britt Daniel. Indeed, the key to Operators' sound is Divine Fits (and New Bomb Turks) drummer Sam Brown, whose fluid playing adds an organic pulse to the triggered beats and multi-instrumentalist Devojka's crystalline synth lines. Overtop those grooves, the former Wolf Parader's idiosyncratic croon lends the catchy synth-pop an urgency, such that the repeated "One! One! One! One true love" of opener "True" or the triumphant sentiment of closer "Start Again" ascend into legit bangers by the time their respective choruses hit.
Only "Cruel" falls a little flat, sounding like a Divine Fits b-side — which for any other band would be a compliment. For Operators, it's just proof that no matter what the project may be, Boeckner's past can barely keep up with him. (Last Gang)