The dark electro genre has always favored the do-it-yourself approach, with new acts stepping up every day hoping to score that elusive goth club hit; it makes it tougher to find musicians who turn their creative energy inward for real emotional content. That's why we're always impressed by Florida-based artist Miss FD – her music blends moody gothic atmosphere with catchy club beats, tied together by vocals that go from witty and playful to thoughtful and reflective. Each song also tells a story, and sometimes it isn't a happy one. It's pretty much a given that fans of darker musical styles (that would be most of you reading this) probably aren't that into love songs – especially on Valentine's Day, when everyone else seems to be giving in to the warm fuzzies. But don't be misled by the title of FD's latest album Love Never Dies, which makes its debut today: these new tracks are definitely her darkest, most haunting songs to date. Read on for the full review...
Valentine's Day is one of those mixed-bag holidays: some people enjoy the whole ritual of romance, some look at it as just another gift-giving opportunity, and others boycott it as a pile of commercial hoo-hah. But for FD, the traditional day of love represents a very dark chapter in her life: it's the anniversary of a tragedy that would become the source of seven deeply personal songs. Her excellent 2010 release Monsters in the Industry had some ominous moments too, but it's still basically a story of personal evolution, and the tracks become increasingly hopeful as you move through the album. Love Never Dies goes in the opposite direction... and then some: it starts out with feelings of uncertainty, and slowly slips into a netherworld of pain and anguish. The result is sometimes chilling, but the emotional power behind it compels you to listen. Musically, it's quieter and more intimate compared to the sensual energy of earlier FD tracks like “Enter the Void,” but the scaled-back instrumentation – with more focus on piano and warm synths and less on heavy beats – plays a less active role than the vocals, which are stronger than ever.
The deep, swirling synth strains that open “Moment of Fade” let you know immediately what path you're about to travel, and the track's energy feels tense and controlled, but there's still a driving mid-tempo tension that makes the lyrics feel more insistent. More energy is released in the heavier-sounding, more experimental cut “Losing Ground,” which draws its strength from FD's vocal range, which runs from delicate and melancholy to heavy and ominous – often at the same time, thanks to some well-done harmonies. “Cry For You” not only picks up the tempo, but creates an eerie atmosphere by blending smooth string pads with dissonant arpeggios behind multi-layered vocals.
The album pauses midway for the somber, pulsing instrumental “Temporary Relief,” which weaves a longing, Depeche Mode-style piano solo into an aggressive throb of heavy electronic percussion. In less competent hands, this combination might come across too much like an electro dirge, but FD has a skill for setting an intimate melody within a larger, more sweeping soundscape. In “Away From Here,” the rhythmic elements are stripped away, leaving a powerful piano line and gentle strings to accompany moving, soaring vocals. A more frantic piano and powerful beat ushers in “Negaverse,” which explodes the earlier songs of despair into an aggressive rant against a meaningless, chaotic world, promising to “Tear this system apart,” but the album closes on a quieter note with the gentle ballad “In Love, Loss and Neon,” coming full-circle with the first track's images of slipping away into darkness, forming the last few steps of a dark but beautiful journey.
Love Never Dies is musically accomplished, expertly produced and represents some of Miss FD's strongest songwriting... but remember going in that you're going to feel something more in here than just the desire to get up and dance. Like Monsters in the Industry, there are strong pop instincts at work, and the beats are still damn hot, but it's the record's quiet, subdued moments that remind you FD writes from the heart – summoning feelings way more honest than most of what you're going to hear this Valentine's Day.