When making electronic music, lots of people aim for Daft Punk or Boards of Canada but wind up closer to John Carpenter or Prince. As it turns out, if you try for John Carpenter or Prince, you can make really fun music. The songs on Doom Machine all have great momentum and intelligent structuring, and you can actually hear the concept throughout — this is a post-apocalyptic highway trip, start to finish. And best of all, Hero has given each track an indomitable swagger, like they’re all wearing sunglasses and white khakis. Given that this is an imaginary soundtrack, mood is everything and Hero delivers in the most retro fashion — percussive guitars, stereo arpeggiators, unapologetically synthetic drums, rubbery basslines and a well-exercised flanger pedal. It hits all the right notes to evoke the neon apocalypse, the glitziest wasteland anyone’s ever imagined.

It’s worth mentioning that four of the six tracks sound very similar to one another but at less than 20 minutes total, Doom Machine disappears into the sunset long before its welcome wears out. “Horizon (End Credits)” drives the straight and narrow for the better part of five minutes, at once distilling and representing everything that made the previous songs enjoyable. Concepts can either help or hinder musicians and in Hero’s case, it definitely helped.

By John Julius

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