POW! is a San Francisco based band with a name as powerful as their music. Synth-obsessed, and a bit punk, POW! utilizes their digital prowess to create music to lose yourself to. It’s both hypnotic and scary, but in a perfectly good way. While their music is simple, it’s texture is what really makes for a great song and overall, this is a band that will leave you begging for more.
POW! really starts out strong, inspiring new hope for every band that will be. “Hope Dealers” and “Vertical Slum,” the first two opening tracks are jaw-dropping good. Either song really captures that dark, haunting, synth-punk sound just right. Like a modern Nervous Gender or Colin Newman, POW! started out by shocking, inspiring, and hypnotizing at once. The band’s rock influence was enough to keep things fresh and the blast of synth was awesome, but alas as Hi Tech Boom carries onward, something begins to happen to the album.
While the next few tracks are good (and we’ll discuss some gems later), around the time you get half way through the album, there is a greater focus on the more rock like influences the band does have. The synth is still there but the atmosphere fades. It’s kind of disappointing, prior to the band was really hitting the nail on the head, but then they just sort of become forgettable. With so many punk inspired bands tossing synths in for fun these days, you have to do something to distinguish yourself. When POW! first starts the album with some darker themes and a healthy dose of dissonance, they weren’t completely new and refreshing, but the music was different enough to grab your attention.
Aside from the disappointing change-up in style, Hi Tech Boom faces several other minor issues, but nothing too significant. The songs sort of end, and the vocals are often so inaudible they sound like some whiny sounds in the background –nothing major. On the other hand, the album really does have some kickass songs. “Sugi Walks,” is one of the most memorable. The song starts with a percussive rhythm, the instrumentation creates an odd mood. The guitars are trippy and the synth is deep, bass-y, ominous. The song fits the album’s opening mood and is fairly well executed. On the other hand, “Shoes (PLEH)” a song later on in the album, is just as good. This time, the synth and guitar are more balanced and the music is more upbeat. Somehow the song just sticks with you and the vocals even sound a bit cleaner, more refined.
POW!’s Hi Tech Boom is a pretty great debut. The band might have to work out their style more and figure out what work’s best for them, but this album is pretty great all things considered. Hi Tech Boom is no blockbuster but with tracks like, “Vertical Slum,” “Sugi Walks,” and “Shoes,” you really can’t help but get a little bit excited for POW!. In no way is Hi Tech Boom a must listen, but anybody who loves some distorted guitars, nasty synths, atmospheric melodies, and a healthy dose of comatose, whiny vocals should really consider giving the album a shot. If this is POW!’s debut, who knows what they’re capable of.