Do I need a disclaimer at the beginning of an article about Let Em Riot? I mean, he has graced electronic rumors records with his SlashWave EP way back when and Alan is considered electronic rumors fam around these parts; so yeah, there may be bias. But look at it this way, I sunk my own hard earned cash and personal reputation (although that second one is pretty worthless!) into Let Em Riot, I was that convinced of how awesome they were. When did you last invest in an artist ‘cos you were so excited by them, huh? Exactly. So shut up and let me write.
And why did I invest in Let Em Riot? Well it’s simply because Alan Oakes is the single most talented singer/songwriter working in the SynthWave/RetroWave scene. Hands Down. In fact, he’s one of the most talented singer/songwriters working on ElectroPop or Indie-Electro, as a whole, today. Big words maybe, but just listen to one of his EPs, c’mon! I can’t even.
Speaking of EPs, Today sees the release of Let Em Riot’s latest EP on his Bandcamp page. The Programme EP is Let Em Riot’s fourth and, like the rest of his catalogue, see Alan exploring topics of love and loss to a soundtrack of sumptuous nostalgic synths. Dig in!
The EP kicks off with In Between. The thing with Let EM Riot songs is, no matter how melancholic they might be, they are always quite cheery and upbeat. You feel like even the tales of heartbreak have a happy ending somewhere. In Between dishes out the longing in spades between stabbing synth riffs and heavy duty drums (the drums are beefed up for this EP).
What sets Alan apart from some of his contemporaries is that, although he is making pure SynthPop, his songwriting and vocal style draws more from Indie and Alt-Rock than classic electronic music; and that’s a sweet combination. Rich synthesizer music and deeply emotional croon fit together perfectly. Saying that, though, I Don’t Want To Fake It is pure retro Pop. This tune could have easily charted in the mid-80s with it’s sparkling keys and fist-pumping earnest chorus. Kept fresh with just the tiniest injection of a Tropical groove. It.s even got some distant “Whoa-oh”s giving it a Nik Kershaw-goes-Tropical vibe.
Stranger Places’ Depeche Mode-esque post-Industrial rhythmic hammerfalls pin down this sweeping instrumental. It’s Sci-Fi soundscape ripe for cinematic visuals; Stranger Places is more nuanced and intricate than many of it’s peers, drawing as much from Jarre and the aforementioned Mode as it does from period soundtracks to delivers it’s melodic but tense package.
Want some unadulterated Let Em Riot? Upbeat beats, digital bass, heartfelt verses and big chant-a-long choruses, a nostalgic sheen? Well, Waiting For You has everything you need right here. This tune is the euphoric apex of the EP with relatable lyrics and some truly special synth riffing, this one’ll put a spring in your step.
The EP closes on Home Again, a beautiful, optimistic, heartfelt slice of ElectroPop. It’s raid fire bassline driving the track but never overtaking the considered delivery of the vocals, which seem to reign the machine gun synths in. Home Again brings to EP to it’s end but leaves a good taste in your ears.
See! That’s wasn’t to bias was it? Seriously though, if you like the three E’s, Electronics, Energy and Emotion in your music then you need to be at the very least investing Let Em Riot and you could do worst that starting with the Programme EP.
♫ Let Em Riot – I Don’t Want To Fake It
♫ Let Em Riot – Waiting For You
♫ Let Em Riot – Home Again
Let Em Riot’s Programme EP is out today via his Bandcamp page.
Buy Let Em Riot’s music from: