Paranoid pop for the age of information overindulgence. That sums up the ideas behind Big Data in one phrase. These are songs about love, connection, fear and belonging in a time where we experience e-love, e-connection, and in place of rejection we fear being “defriended”.
These are the ideas behind the lyrics of the debut EP by Big Data, appropriately titled “1.0”. Behind the emerald curtain is Alan Wilkes, a bespectacled brain with a beard, and the object of the caricature that graces most of the Big Data promotion thus far. The vocals are provided by Joywave, another up and coming synthpop group of a similar but a bit more calm style. However, unlike Joywave, Wilkes has a specific agenda in mind with his sound. He is well studied in the craft of vocal layering and harmonies and uses this to great effect as evident on the lead track “The Stroke of Return”. It makes me envision ELO’s “Calling America”, but 30 years later when technology has grown so large we are now frightened of its capacity for harm. The sweetness of the vocals against the cold of the electronics makes for tasty ear candy, even with bleak but clever lyrics like “I’m looking out for sunshine, but the cloud is all I see”.
Next up on the EP is the brilliant lead single “Dangerous”. This one actually lists Joywave as being featured. However I can’t seem to find any information to say if this is only vocalist Daniel Armbruster, or if the entire band is involved. Add to this frustration that when I bought the CD from Amazon, which is a CD *burned* on demand by Amazon, there are no real liner notes to speak of. Just the front artwork, and a tracklisting. No “featuring” credits. But after listening to the most current Joywave EP, I am convinced that Joywave graces all of these tracks. Back to “Dangerous”. This is easily my favorite song of the summer – a song about prying eyes and paranoia over what *they* know about you. Yeah so it’s what you’ve *let* them know about you. The joy of paranoia over an irresistible beat. Once again this song proves my theory that people cannot resist handclaps. The video creates its own discussion. A day in the life of a marketing firm discussing a new ad campaign for shoes. It is gory. It is sexist. It is entirely inappropriate. And that is why the idea is chosen and applauded. The very fact you may want to watch the video over and over goes to show how we have become desensitized to sexism and violence. Because shoes.
The third track has a slower grind of whizzing and whirring to drive it along. “Big Dater” (get it?) is about the barriers that exist in communication in an age where it’s all at our fingertips. When all we have to do to gain a friend is to click a button in some people’s minds, and rejection is as simple as a “block” button, things get complicated and lonely. People don’t have on and off buttons like computers. Yet dating is being replaced by quick fickle exchanges behind a screen. “We’re connecting, but it’s all in digital”.
The final track is “Bombs Over Brooklyn”, an imagining of what the horrors of war could be in this age when we are more worried about tweeting that being aware of what’s around us. As all of the songs here, the song has perfectly layers harmonies and a beat that is hard to sit still through.
The son of the 80s is back and is hellbent on revenge for the crimes against its father. Enjoy, if you dare.
Pick up the “1.0” EP HERE:
As of writing this, the digital EP is no longer for sale.
Check out the extremely NSFW video for “Dangerous”:
And here is an “easier on the stomach” fan-made version using Joywave footage (which is still quite good):
And here is the audio of the lead track “The Stroke of Return”: