It is the far future, a dying sun pushes the planet ever closer to extinction. In the mega-city of Cairo-Athens, earth embraces the coming destruction with a non-stop party in the ever-increasing warmth. It’s not a new Young Adult sci-fi trilogy, it’s the concept behind the Infinite Summer album, from NZCA Lines.
Opening with a Melody Nelson style spoken word intro in “Approach” before single Persephone Dream, kicks in, featuring the finest Marimba break of 2015, which still makes your spine tingle and you head nod. “Chemical Is Obvious” follows, setting the scene for the majority of the album, all retro synths, plaintive, longing vocals, and managing to sound like you’re at a party that while fun, just doesn’t feel all that welcoming. But in a good way.
You may have already heard new single “Two Hearts”, and this is as urgent as the record gets, my favourite track on the album. “Don’t Tell Me we’re lost, because I’ve been waiting for you” it cries over low end humming, bleeping melody and driving beats in the most danceable apocalypse I can imagine.
Title track “Infinite Summer” is not the party anthem you may expect from the name and its “the sun is almost always overhead” belays a downbeat message and again, a colder synth sound. “New Atmosphere”, on the surface could be an anthemic ode to hedonism, but despite the “We Could Both Be Someone else” refrain, it never really feels that meeting up at this particular time is a positive.
“How Long Does It Take” is both an upbeat late-era disco classic, and a mournful break-up. Think the un-requited love at the end of Interstella 5555, but sadder (if that’s possible) and featuring the wibbliest crescendo of the year so far. “Jessica” is likely to be a live favourite – a dual vocal, call and response epic – and despite the retro synth sound across the album, this is the closest we get to New Romantic territory. “Carry Me In Every Emotion” indeed. “Dark Horizon” slows the already downbeat delivery into (almost) spoken word vocals, leads into closer “The World You Have Made For Us”, “We thought we could save it all” the track cries before a distorted synth cuts across a digitised hi-hat heart beat , and the track builds into the kind of electro crescendo that used to soundtrack the parts of Ulysess 31 where planets exploded.
At first listening it felt wrong to have these summer moments in mid winter, but the more I listened, the more I felt this isn’t really that sort of album. The colder sounds from the more downbeat moments make sense as the nights draw in. The whole album longs for an end to the heat, but while it’s here, why don’t we dance – for better or worse? It’s certainly one of the saddest “summer” records I can remember. I think a festival needs to book NZCA Lines at sunset, this music belongs in a crowd of people, knowing that while tomorrow will certainly bring regrets, there’s no reason to hold back today. My first highly recommended album of 2016.
Out now on Memphis Industries