See You Later, Simulator (Trashy Moped Recordings)
Reviewed by Alejandra Ramirez, Fri., Sept. 7, 2018
"Putting down your bread and butter is crazy," admitted Aaron Behrens in 2014 about his decision to put Ghostland Observatory on hiatus four years earlier. Having headlined Lollapalooza and graced Lexus commercials, the Austin duo of frontman Behrens and musical mainframe Thomas Turner return with their first full-length in eight years. Proclaimed by the singer as a "rebirth, a phoenix rising from the ashes," fifth album See You Later, Simulator configures smaller by shrouding Behrens' hair metal histrionics in Turner's Moog-driven melodies. The pair's electro space odyssey still flashes back to Krautrock, Freddie Mercury glam, and Daft Punk worship, but in minimalist terms compared to the maximum bombast of Ghostland Observatory. On the title track, Behrens inhabits a subdued timbre that distorts behind the fuzz/drone percussion that teeter-totters between French electronica and proto-industrial. As with Robotique Majestique (2008), this mirrors the largest shift in Behrens' shriek and punchy guitar, which usually occupy the forefront of the mix. Deep house-smeared "Permanent Vacation" and interstellar cruiser "Loner" leave him riding shotgun to Turner's sprawling soundscapes. Buzz-synthed maelstrom "We Understand" filters his vox through robo-doppelgänger shifters. Only the sunshine vocoder on "With or Without You" and stutter step closer "Life of the Party" channel the spazz-pop seizures in Paparrazi Lightning (2006) and arena acrobatics of Codename: Rondo (2010). In other words, See You Later, Simulator leaves 2010 in the rear-view mirror.