If you read Minute Taker’s bio, you’ll notice the references to eighties music, and the stars of the time who have inspired him. In the past, he’s even covered several of these legends; Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush and Eurythmics to name but a few. But whilst Minute Taker, AKA singer songwriter Ben McGarvey, is an eighties aficionado, it would be wrong to write him off as a one trick pony. Sure, his music does have a lot of those sounds, but all with his own unique, modern twist upon it.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve had a consistent release of singles released from Minute Taker, but it’s been a while since we had a long player. The new album Wolf Hours drops on 28th January. It becomes clear even from the spooky woodland artist depiction (a recreation of a vivid dream), that we’re in for a whole load of drama.
On first listen, there are two elements that stick out straight away – firstly the haunting vocals. They’re delivered in a male-Tracy -Thorne-esque manner, injecting a deeply emotive performance, without ever a raised voice.
Secondly is the production, expertly mixing traditional instruments with synths and beats. All these elements put together create a unique kind of pop music. After getting to know this artist throughout the eleven tracks on this album (plus those on previous releases) there us a branding; a recognisable sound that ties everything together.
The album opener, Lead You Home, is also the most recent single release, and comes with an emotionally charged video. The song and video represent the album well, giving a real taste of what we can expect in the tracks that follow, and showing off Minute Taker’s skills as a story teller.
Recent single 500 Break ups is an upbeat dance track, with more uplifting production values than the title would suggest. Hearts (We’ll Never Know) keeps the pace up, and presents with the same drive and bounce as Madonna’s Pharell produced track, Give It 2 Me.
If you like your beats more laid back, there’s plenty to keep you entertained through this collection of songs. After The Rain, featuring fellow LGBTQ+ icon Bright Light Bright Light, sounds like something played at a late night bar, on the cobbled back streets of a traditional Spanish village. With so may shared influences, it’s not difficult to see why the two artists’ sounds blend so well together.
Not Afraid is a hypnotic lullaby, that takes the pace down a notch further and provides the album’s most prominent goosebumps moments.
Minute Taker’s approach to synth pop is enough to please anyone with a foot still firmly in the eighties (including a certain music writer not too far from here). This collection of songs has all the ingredients that made us love bands like Erasure, Yazoo and The Pet Shop Boys. But that doesn’t make Minute Taker a tribute act. Above all else, this is an album of interesting, emotive and original pop songs that stands firmly on it’s own two feet.
Wolf Hours is released January 28th.