Kavinsky garnered a lot of attention a couple of years ago for the song Nightcall which featured prominently in the 2011 film Drive. Cool, cold, and effortless 80’s, it was the perfect fit for Nicolas Winding Refn’s film about a silent outsider with a penchant for driving and violence.
Nightcall appears on OutRun, the first full-length by DJ and synth-pop artist Kavinsky and its appearance is at once welcome yet troubling. On the one hand it’s a great track but on the other, it’s three years old. The fact that it is by some margin OutRun’s strongest track doesn’t do the album any favours either.
Nightcall was a retro-sounding track that found itself perfectly suited to soundtrack a film with a similar 80’s fixation. With OutRun, Kavinsky has crafted an album that feels more like a soundtrack to something else rather than a collection of songs in its own right.
The opening Prelude lays down some sort of plot involving a man, a girl, a car and the 80’s. This sets the tone perfectly for the machinated synth-odyssey that is to follow and Kavinsky has perfectly captured the sound and feel of the decade. But where other 80’s worshipping acts such as M83 or Twin Shadow uses this nostalgia as the basis for their own sound, OutRun never really sounds like anything more than a pitch-perfect homage to something else. A couple of tracks like Protovision and Suburbia do a good job of capturing some momentum and excitement but only when Nightcall arrives does OutRun truly transcend imitation.
OutRun might not be the most captivating album but, whether by accident or design, it would probably make for a pretty brilliant soundtrack.