That Theme Park’s long-awaited debut is produced by the man behind Foals and The Maccabees – with a little help from Friendly Fires’ frontman Ed Macfarlane – tells you much of what you need to know. It would have been bang “on trend” four or five years ago, soundtracking episodes of Skins and the Topshop instore radio. That this summery breeze of synth-pop is released during winter 2013 is puzzling, but also makes it all the more welcome.
If ever a band has paid its dues, it’s these Londoners. Singles and EPs have been doing the rounds for a few years now and they’re certainly no strangers to the live circuit, gradually building up their following to the extent that they’ve sold out their headline show at Heaven in March. They’ve shed a member and are now working as a trio, but that’s not distracted them from their mission statement; the choruses are still big, the music still woozy. There’s no time for dwelling on the past or skulking about here – their debut is an uplifting, optimistic affair.
Jamaica has been knocking around for ages, but the album version is simply one of the best synth-pop songs of recent years. A heavy pop-hook with a lightweight backing and blissed out vocals, it’s a combination that works perfectly and wedges itself in your brain for hours – nay, weeks.
Two Hours – another old favourite – has Miles Haughton’s disembodied baritone running steadily throughout, a chaos of sounds rushing past it. It’s the sort of life-affirming sound that Bloc Party specialised in early on in their career. Wax takes them into the night; a slinky, keys-driven song that opens up their calypso, Afrobeat-influences, also heard on the wonderfully choppy Ghosts. Still Life and Los Chikas are also stand-outs – glittering and colourful, they add to the hazy, laid back feel of the album.
So, given the release time and date, have Theme Park missed the boat? Long-time fans will be disappointed that so many of their previous releases have found their way onto their first LP, but the time that’s been invested in getting the record to this stage is clear. It’s a beautifully produced album with a consistent sound which they can finally call shot gun on. As the days begin to get lighter and brighter and winter gives way to spring, Theme Park lay claim to be the perfect accompaniment.