Programm's debut EP is not nearly as heliocentric as its title suggests.
Although it deploys signifiers belonging to more traditionally sunny music, the titular "Like the Sun" is less a sunny pop than an Icarian tale about the scorching lessons of romantic maturation and lust. As singer Jackie Game sighs lines like "We're diving into a bed of lust," and an infinite drum machine ricochet clap chugs along, the track progresses steadily into a wilderness of shoegaze and synth pop, detonating layers of tremolo-picked guitars and shimmering synths that accumulate in a gigantic sounding climax, only to drift away in a back-to-dreary-earth fadeout.
The song is typical of the meticulously layered song crafting on the EP, but it's also markedly more upbeat in terms of style and lyrical subject. "We Barely Escaped" is a claustrophobic post-punk recollection Jacob Soma delivers in a monotonous ramble. There's a more inviting passage sung by Game later in the seven-and-a-half-minute epic, but it's Soma's repeated title line that gets the final say, and the way the word "barely" is emphasized doesn't seem coincidental. "Soft Shadows" is a cold wave short cut that plays out like a quest to find a lover amidst the throngs of a throbbing nightclub that is only rewarded with a middle finger upon completion, while "ZeroZeroZero" is like the futile requiem of a sad robot shutdown procedural, all gloomy compressing bellows and pistons.
It's anything but a warming ray of sunshine, and the space of an EP doesn't allow the ideas much room to breathe, but Programm find enough space on Like the Sun to leave a strong artistic impression and plant a promising flag in this brave new world of post-everything sounds. (The Hand)