Concept albums are often hit and miss, either bogged down by overcomplicated story, or so vague and incoherent that the concept loses all meaning. Personal Computer, the first studio album from Kody Nielson’s Silicon is thankfully a successful attempt at expressing an all too familiar theme.
An ode to the digital age, and the alienation, isolation and detachment of technology, Personal Computer represents a certain irony in the relationship between its overarching theme and musical content. It’s an enjoyable contradiction that an album about the cold digital era sounds so fresh, soulful and bubbling with life. Personal Computer is 70s and 80s soul, funk and disco reimagined for 2015. In place of ‘sexual healing’ and heartache lie emotional detachment and the complex, and often alienating relationship between man and machine. Like the entanglement of iPhones, laptops and tablets into modern society, Personal Computer’s hooks stick with you, catchy nuggets of digital funk, sounding computerised whilst bristling with slick, natural grooves and live instrumentation.
Nielson successfully marries the old and the new, exemplified by ‘Submarine’, which combines highly processed vocals, sampling, live drums and an electrifying retro synth-line worthy of the king of pop. ‘Burning Sugar’ features old school funk guitar, processed and repurposed in a modern context, another example of Nielson’s ability to blend differing elements into a melting pot of abstract, unique indie pop. All in all, Personal Computer is a confident, strong debut from Silicon, featuring some of Nielson’s most inspired, intricate productions wrapped around a timely and relatable theme.