Cardiknox finds a new voice on ‘Portrait’

Monday, March 28, 2016 - 5:34pm

NOSELL

Warner Bros. Music

 

“Just another girl from a small town with big dreams / Just another wild heart who’s looking to break free / And the locks on the doors only make me want more of the crown / In the black of the night, there’s a hum you can feel in the ground.”

The opening lyrics of Cardiknox’s breakthrough full-length album Portrait set the stage for the inventive and experimental tracks that follow. Breaking free of traditional pop guidelines, the New York-based electronic pop duo set a new precedence of mixing ’80s beats with modern pop elements. Raised in the suburbs of Seattle and introduced through a mutual friend, Lonnie Angle’s classical piano training and Thomas Dutton’s punk roots combined to release the synth-infused Portrait on March 11, 2016.

Starting off soft and steady, “Earthquake” tests out new instruments and electronics to find Cardiknox’s voice. As Angle’s vocals soar over the background beats, multiple layers and echoes make the duo sound like a full band. “Doors” leads with a cappella and a steady drumbeat, slowing things down for a vocal showcase. With untraditional and catchy hooks, the methodical and repetitive chorus puts the listener in a trancelike state as Angle sings, “I cannot be defined by the present or the past.”

Channeling The 1975, “Into the Night” mutes its intro and speaks of regrets and moving on. As Angle croons, “Baby, I remember everything you forgot to say to me / Left me feeling blue / I’m thinking that maybe I was looking for something that could save me / But it wasn’t you,” the juxtaposition between simple verses and a heavy, ’80s inspired chorus is the perfect example of the kind of music Cardiknox makes.

“Bloodlust” takes on the role of an experimental rock song with dense electric guitars and constant drumsticks. It’s seductive and captivating, using quick-witted lyrics like, “I see you in my sleep / A vision in the heat / I want to see what you’ve got,” to draw the listener in.

Closing with piano-based “Shadowboxing” gives Angle a chance to showcase her classical training while still adding electronic elements to supplement Dutton’s style. The swelling vocals feel like an appropriate culmination to the edgy and innovative album, bringing the listener down from the preceding fast-paced tracks and providing a chance to reflect on the experience. The sweet and clear vocals talk about fighting off demons as Angle sings, “I’m fighting someone / But no one’s there / I’m throwing punches into the air / I’m shadowboxing.” It simultaneously feels nostalgic and hopeful and leaves the album on a bittersweet note, ready for Cardiknox’s next project.

“Earthquake’s” closing lyrics about sum up Cardiknox’s next move when Angle proclaims, “And when my feet land on the dirt / You’ll feel the ground shake / I’m gonna make my mark / I’m coming like an earthquake.”