Male Tears Deliver Groundbreaking Fusion Of New Romantic Body Music On Latest Record KRYPT
How the LA-duo revolutionizes the alternative music scene with a fresh blend of goth, coldwave, and dance.
KRYPT – the new album by New Romantic Body Music duo Male Tears – is relatively short but nevertheless extremely sweet. After experimenting with multiple different looks and aesthetics over the course of their career, the duo has smashed upon something that sums up quality not quantity with eight wide-ranging and innovative tracks, released via Bologna-based label Avant! Records.
In bringing together their different influences to create a new subgenre, Male Tears have walked on the musical edge to bring us this winning formula. Basically, it’s no small feat to try and branch out the way they have, especially with a third album. That’s why KRYPT is a summation of the very best of their experiments, with stark and relatively cold production mingled with lush vocals and equal amounts of chilling atmosphere.
Aesthetically speaking, Male Tears have been evolving for a while now. Currently, their look is uncannily representative of their sound. It’s full of classic horror aesthetics, plenty of luscious black eyeliner, and leather, yet mingled with psychedelic flowers such as in their music video for “SLAY”. In fact, The look is as new as the music.
The duo consisting of Frank Shark and James Edward have been experimenting with their exact niche within the scene now for ages. Both visually and musically this is technicolor glory. Whilst their previous two releases were strong, it’s third time lucky when it comes to generating that truly deserved label of innovation. The term “New Romantic Body Music” is a portmanteau of the UK’s new romantic subculture of the late 70s and early 80s and electronic body music (EBM), a dark and driving subgenre of electronic music that spun out of goth, post-punk, industrial, and new wave. It’s a fitting way of christening their unique combination of luscious beats, romantic intensity, and dancefloor aggression. This is clearly music intended for both body and soul combined.
Shark and Edward are based in LA, but their musical inspirations ultimately come from the UK and the European continent. Previously, they experimented with both lighter and darker work with their gentler self-titled debut album as well as the darker LP Trauma Club as a follow-up. However, it is with KRYPT that they finally managed to combine the two and in the process have invented something deliciously fresh. Classic bands that have fed into their sound include Soft Cell and Depeche Mode, yet they’re also inspired by lesser-known acts like Virgin Prunes. Some of their aesthetic might remind a careful connoisseur of American electropunk group Mindless Self Indulgence, but Male Tears have ultimately owed plenty to Euro culture ever since their inception in 2021.
The idea of blending stuff together is also visible in the production. Yet what they’ve managed to do so well with KRYPT is to understand that each track is a separate experiment in itself. Whereas much of the middle of the album is on the colder and more aggressive side – though nevertheless extremely danceable – the single, “SLAY”, is much more upbeat. The duo has publicized on their Bandcamp the fact that they’re also approaching music through the lens of bedroom pop, a pretty brave move considering some of the genres they are working with came from an era long before. Yet it takes a sharp mind to spot the similarities and places an artist can bridge the gap between the two. “SLAY” is definitely one of these places.
Plus, it has an awesome video to boot. It’s an artsy melting pot of all the different thoughts and feelings that have gone into the album. There’s also something weirdly uplifting about it due to its rhythm which goes together in the best possible way with the heavy makeup and dark clothing. Yet, there is this bold, slightly daring attitude throughout the whole of the album, from tracks like stark, pulsing “DEAL3R” to the eponymous “KRYPT”. The vocals of James Edward switch from deep and haunting to smooth pop throughout. It’s this which gives the album its ability to lighten up a genre that can often be pretty serious – whilst still staying totally respected and listenable by utilizing unanticipated juxtaposition and contrast without shame. At heart, KRYPT is proof of how exploration pays off.
Ultimately with KRYPT, Male Tears have found a unique and happy medium for their sound. The fact that they’ve been trying to determine their own subgenre with its own name is something not many bands in the gothic and alternative scene do goes to show they are serious about bringing something new to EBM, goth, and coldwave in a way other bands aren’t.
Male Tears (US)
Featured Image by Alejandro Lomeli