It’s hard to shake the influence of Kraftwerk on electronic pop music today: the way they merged worlds of human consciousness and mechanical automation on their seminal album The Man-Machine is present in everything from Chicago house to big room EDM. The Detroit-bred techno-pop artist Matthew Dear shares a lot with Kraftwerk stylistically, from his glimmering keys and plastic atmospheres, to his emotive but conversational vocal style. But Dear has never worn Kraftwerk’s influence on his sleeve as clearly as on his new track, “Modafinil Blues.”
The springy, filtered chords and the echoing arpeggios instantly recall Kraftwerk’s 1978 classic “Neon Lights.” But instead of the hopeful future imagined on that upbeat song, Dear sounds dejected, searching for a way out as he navigates a drugged-up comedown. He paints himself as a victim of his own self-medication, “hopeless at best,” and “helplessly floating from embers,” and it’s as honest as he’s ever felt on a track. Dear’s wide-open synths and cruising bassline feel airy and warm, but “Modafinil Blues” coasts at an unhurried pace emphasizing his brooding introspection. Pairing gentle production with his dark thoughts, Dear’s “Modafinil Blues” equally fits for an evening joyride or as a soundtrack for a restless insomniac.
Listen A track, below: