Thrust Lab: Wind Breaker
Thrust Lab is Baltimore's electronic-rock house band (house band as in the Roots, not the oonse kind)--a dance-party opening staple that never seems to get much of a spotlight. Cursed with the 10 p.m. slot or not, kids seem to lose it over the duo on a pretty regular basis--even without a Wham City branding or affiliation--and this writer's seen them outshine at least a couple of headliners with a relatively simple low-bit synth-pop rush. Since starting as a MICA class project in 2004, Thrust Lab has mostly been self-releasing the kind of music that would usually stay an art project, but last winter it teamed with local indie boutique label Creative Capitalism to put out this quick, yet far more realized, 20-minute EP.
Even on record, it's easy to see why this works. Kinda like fellow synth-centric band Future Islands, Thrust Lab gets by with punchy, busy bass lines that strike out of the mix like a snare you don't notice until it's cutting off the blood to your foot. The songs are energetic without being sugar-rushed, playing out like a Nintendo-doting take on Ratatat. And, like that band, Thrust Lab's songs kind of melt together--this could really use vocals. If not vocals, then something to fill in what feel like uncolored or unfinished surfaces. Live drums make up for that in concert, but on record the jive between drum programming--which dominates over the record's human drumming--and synths make this feel stunted. The band has potential for miles, but it's going to take more than a basket of cute/clever keyboard hooks.