Montreal bandmates Addy Weitzman and Patrick A. Boivin co-produced and co-wrote the lyrics on their debut, a project exemplifying their progress since two first met while attending university. The Beat Escape have taken listeners on a futuristic voyage on its debut album, Life Is Short The Answer’s Long.
The opening track, “Sign of Age,” introduces the project’s distinctive sound of obscure minimal new wave and ’80s synth pop. Hypnotic, yet subtle, both the percussion and echoing vocals build up a driving momentum that pervades throughout the album’s melodic core. The variations within each song remain subtle as well, as displayed on “Moon in Aquarius” and “Limestone Alps.” While maintaining an overall meditative quality, the songs provide switch-ups and diligent pauses between the vocal refrains.
“Seeing is Forgetting” solidifies itself as a standout song on the album. As the seventh cut of a nine-song tracklist, it transitions to an upbeat tone, in contrast with the preceding mellow tracks “More Dreams” and “Then I Drift Away.” Upon first listen, the music doesn’t command focus. Instead, it floats in the background, creating a mood but bypassing solos or star turns.
This is especially true because the vocals remain muffled, making lyrics and melody unclear. However, after listening to the album in its entirety, it appears The Beat Escape champions this unpolished audio style in order to spotlight the droning synthesizers. In its case, the human voice is positioned as an accessory to the sonics of electronic production, which remains the primary source of storytelling.
“We’re drawn to the type of songs that were almost hits but there’s something slightly off about them, so they were never discovered,” the duo said in a news release.
The dynamic instrumentation is better felt through headphones, allowing a proper appreciation of the sound panning and the physical movement the music imparts as it comes to life. The lyrics layer on top of synths and beats, creating gloomy ambience. As if casting a dark shadow, the abstract lyrics of each track further plunge into the mystery—which the Beat Escape leave open to interpretation.
Life Is Short The Answer’s Long has a sound that could fit naturally on a soundtrack to Stranger Things or some other neo-retro revival. It’s simultaneously reminiscent of Echo and the Bunneymen and Simple Minds. This vibe is especially felt on “Where Water Ends,” with its eerie and haunting chord progressions. In fact, the band primarily uses synths and keyboard from the ’80s on the songs.
“The sound of that time period inevitably comes through,” Weitzman has said.
It’s the same aura reflected from the sound to the visual direction of The Beat Escape’s music. With the explorative and existential themes on Life Is Short The Answer’s Long, the band has arrived ready to accompany listeners on a retro-futuristic mission.