“This makes me want to buy a DX7” is what crossed my mind when I first heard Home Front’s debut EP Think of the Lie back in late 2021. I did indeed end up buying myself a synthesizer a few months later. Coincidence? Maybe? The self-labeled “bootgaze” band from Edmonton, Canada was back on this month with its full-length debut LP, Games of Power, on London (UK)-based label La Vida Es Un Mus Discos.
The album starts off strong right out the gate with the ear worm-inducing single “Faded State,” followed by synth punk rager “Real Eyes” and then “Nation,” a high energy electro-oi! track featuring Cal, member of English street punk/oi! band The Chisel. By this point, I can’t help but be impressed by the impeccably slick co-production of Nik Kozub and Jonah Falco (Fucked Up, Career Suicide). Fans of records like Listen by A Flock of Seagulls or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s Architecture & Morality will thoroughly enjoy the mid-album triptych made of the songs “Overtime,” “Contact,” and “Crisis.” It’s like you died and went to new wave heaven. The two other songs that stood out the most to me are the moody funk of politically charged title track and the heavily Suicide/Alan Vega inspired “Born Killer.”
The icy cold and many-layered synth sequences, the use of cleverly programmed drum machines (as well as analog percussions), the ultra catchy punk guitar riffs, the tender yet very anthemic vocals, this band has it all, or almost—the only thing lacking being its members sporting outrageous ’80s new wave hairdos. Their ability to combine genres such as oi! and post punk with synthpop and pop punk is what makes them stand out in this day and age. Like a parallel universe where New Order is playing on the Warped Tour, or Second Empire Justice-era Blitz are wearing matching leatherette suits. The Home Front guys could sell hairspray to skinheads.
Games of Power is an album that lives up to its own huge ambition. It is fluid and nicely homogeneous, it has emotional depth and most of all, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Definitely one for the ages.