UNFOLDING LIKE a fragrant bloom at its seasonal peak, Radiation City's new album is a sensory triumph. On Synesthetica, angelic, heavenly harmonies blossom in lush, vibrant hues in some sort of auditory Eden.
Over email, guitarist Cameron Spies explains that singer/keyboardist Lizzy Ellison has synesthesia, "a condition in which one sense is triggered by another (i.e., Lizzy sees colors in her brain when she hears certain music in her ears). We tried to emulate this through a hyper-textural approach to the sonics in this record."
Even the song titles build this feeling of sensory inundation—"Oil Show," "Juicy," "Butter," and "Milky White," specifically. Synesthetica's nine tracks slip through your fingers in just 38 minutes, as fleeting as halcyon days. Each song has countless layers, each unearthing a new, palpable dimension.
"The concept behind the record is not purely aural, though," Spies says. "We hope it embodies a more universal blending of artistic disciplines and experiences. There are so many talented people around us who work in a variety of media, that it's hard not to be constantly inspired and challenged. I think it can extend to your everyday actions and how we can break social mores and lead more dynamic, interesting lives."
While Radiation City's 2011 debut, The Hands That Take You, and 2013's Animals in the Median airily evoked the band's flowery sensibilities, Synesthetica condenses these aesthetics. Their sound is tighter, but it loses the playful, nonchalant tone of their earlier work. It's not necessarily a negative change, but it's certainly a more mature incarnation of their futuristic, honeyed pop.
"On The Hands That Take You, we sort of naïvely blundered our way into a sound that worked," says Spies. "There is something charming about that kind of innocence, but we have much clearer ideas about what we want to achieve now. Since that record, we've brought our musical identity into sharper focus. I imagine an eye test where each lens choice gets you closer and closer to your identity as an artist with each record you make."