Velcro Kid, Thomas Giles’ follow-up to 2014’s Modern Noise, takes his prior experimentation with electronic music and turns it into his most daring effort yet. Taking inspiration from sources such as David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Perturbator, and Nine Inch Nails, the progressive rock mastermind has created an album where he fully immerses himself in the diversity of electronic music. Giles does not adhere to any modern trend in music, and nonconformity permeates each track.
The album kicks off with “Immersion Highway,” a track that emphasizes atmosphere above all else. From the beginning of the song, Giles uses synthesizers to create a futuristic sound that borders on synthwave, a genre heavily inspired by music from video games of the ‘80s. Soon after, Giles’ vocals join in, delivering a performance reminiscent of David Bowie and Pink Floyd. His haunting voice echoes “Fake smile has outgrown the common vision” and cheers the album’s chorus, “We are left alone,” aligning with the album’s theme.
Just when you think you have an idea of what the album will sound like, Giles surprises with “Devotion,” a song featuring Jake Troth, an emerging indie rock/pop musician. Their combined efforts push the track into a blend of pop and electronica. As mainstream as the song may sound, especially with the verse-chorus song structure, the dynamic represents the great diversity in this album. Listeners will find themselves singing along to the anthemic chorus: “Oh, I know it’s not my style, it’s not my style. But I believe in this.”
“Strangers in a Paranoid Mind,” introduces a much darker atmosphere and heavy industrial sound. Combined with synthwave, this track would make for a perfect video game’s soundtrack. In contrast, songs such as “Gazer” present a happy yet calming mix of ambient trip hop and orchestral noises. Featuring the equally as eccentric Devin Townsend on vocals, this track is more soothing than songs featuring Giles’ unsettling voice. The dynamic between these two tracks shows Giles has no trouble utilizing different moods in his music.
Giles does not adhere to any modern trend in music, and nonconformity permeates each track.
Perhaps the best example of Giles’ ability to provide cohesion is “Slow Gold Becoming,” a song that embodies nearly all of the elements he utilizes on the album. The track begins with keyboards soon followed by a synthesized beat. Soon after, Giles’ tenor harmonies chime in, inducing a trance together with the music. When Giles shouts, “We are running from our hollow sights,” the listener is again reminded of the nonconformist nature of the lyrics.
Velcro Kid is nothing short of unexpected; many had expected a rock album but ended up with an album that can’t be pigeonholed into a single genre. Not only does Giles go deep into the landscape of electronic music, but he does it with cohesiveness, something that’s hard to find in his prior solo work. With Giles’ constant artistic ambition and willingness to experiment, the album stands on its own among a saturated market of electronic music artists.