Home Read Albums Of The Week: Audiobooks | Astro Tough

Albums Of The Week: Audiobooks | Astro Tough

The synth-pop duo keep things wonderfully weird on their sophomore album.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Audiobooks threw absolutely everything at their 2018 debut album, Now! (in a minute), a hectic, head-spinning blast of freewheeling freak-pop genius. On its followup Astro Tough, they’ve somehow found a way to ramp things up even further, concentrating their chaotic energy and inherent weirdness into a record that’s bigger, deeper and more powerful than even its predecessor.

“The first album was a photograph of the beginnings of the project, recorded without any overall plan,” Wrench explains. “Astro Tough is more scripted, but a script that still allowed for lots of improvised scenes. There was more intention behind the songs, and a lot more refining. We weren’t precious about everything being spontaneous and a first take, like on the first record, even though some of it ended up being that. We made a lot more material for this record but chose the tracks that best worked together as an album.”

Multi-instrumentalist and super-producer/mixer David Wrench, known for his work with Frank Ocean, The xx, Caribou, David Byrne, Manic Street Preachers and Goldfrapp, is as comfortable unleashing monolithic psychedelic wig-outs and heavy dub-driven monsters as he is crafting irresistible synth-pop bangers. Writer, vocalist and visual artist Evangeline Ling is as chameleonic as she is charismatic, able to jump from detachment to rawness to aggression to tenderness to hilarity to toe-curling awkwardness, sometimes within the same song.

Audiobooks’ music can be a lot to get your head around, but it’s exactly that instinctive rejection of comfort zones that makes them so brilliant. “One of our best gigs was the one when everything went terribly wrong,” Ling laughs. “All the sound totally cut out while we were really in the zone, everyone was shouting and swearing and being really abusive, then when it came back on it just went up another level. It’s the gigs that are all over the shop that are the best ones.”

Above all else, Astro Tough is a record that brims with energy. With their roles diverging more clearly than on their debut — Wrench handles almost all the music, Ling the lyrics and vocals — both dig deeper into the enormous emotional potential of each. On Astro Tough, Audiobooks are completely sincere. They’re also completely joyous, wild, angry, powerful, hilarious, vicious, vulnerable and intense, and most of all completely brilliant. It’s the sound of Wrench and Ling reaching new peaks of creativity, more confident than ever before in their abilities to forge something focussed, singular and unique out of the explosive combination of their talents.”