R E V I E W
‘Undelete’ album, by Anecdata
While synthesisers had been used for many years before, what can be described as ‘British synth-pop’ originated in the late ’70 and early ‘80s with bands like OMD and the Human League. These bands in turn took inspiration from Kraftwerk. Lyrics in early songs by these bands were commonly intellectual and thought provoking, and included dystopian and sci-fi themes. This became less common with the second wave of synth-pop bands, such as Soft Cell, Yazoo, and with later releases from OMD and the Human League, where relationships and ‘love’ began to take over as a lyrical topic. Ultimately, experimentation was replaced with commodification, with bands aiming for mainstream success.
With respect to lyrical themes, Auckland’s Anecdata has more in common with the earliest of British synth-pop bands, having an obvious intellectualism to them; there certainly aren’t many songs among the Anecdata catalogue that obviously broach the subject of personal relationships (though ‘Nell’ on the current release comes close). Anecdata songs, instead, commonly revolve around politics, conspiracy theories, the supernatural and sci-fi. ‘Undelete’ is the seventh album from Anecdata, though Dan Satherley has also released a number of solo synth-pop albums previously under the names ‘Radio Over Moscow’ and ‘luna spark’. Musically, any influences Satherley has are not overtly obvious. For me though, Anecdata albums are more about the lyrics, and this one covers the range of Satherley’s interests.
My favourite track on ‘Undelete’ represents a recycled song from Satherley’s ‘Radio Over Moscow’ days, re-recorded and made more listenable than its previous 2010 version. ‘Hide the Decline (We’re no Better than You)’ is a look inside the mind of a conspiracy theorist, who believes themselves to be more expert than the experts – like a graduate from ‘The University of Google’; “I’ve never worn a white coat; or learned the difference between mean, mode and median; still I feel I’m qualified”. Specifically, this song takes its name from a conspiracy theory about a supposed collusion by climatologists to ‘fix’ the data regarding climate change to suit their own agenda. It features the brilliant and insightful line; “it makes one cry for the days before the internet ruined our collective intellect”. Conspiracy theories are also broached on the song ‘Agenda 21’, which follows the belief by some that the United Nations goals on sustainable development are actually aimed at causing global enslavement of humanity under the boot of corporate masters.
It is not all conspiracy theories on the album though. ‘Landlords’ provides some social commentary on the ‘rental trap’, and the role landlords play; “we call ourselves the providers, but all we bring are the spiders; they can trap you in our web; as you watch our prices rise even higher”, and “If you don't pay more than half you earn; how will I afford avocado?”. And it is one particularly cheesy, poppy line in this song that is also perhaps one of my favourites on the album: “greedy guts, full of pus, waiting for the bubble bust”.
Another personal highlight is ‘The Effing News’, clearly inspired by Satherley’s day-job as a digital producer for Newshub. Again, Satherley’s rationalism comes to the fore, with this song again appearing to take aim at conspiracy theorists. In this case it is at those you might find stalking comment sections on social media bemoaning ‘mainstream media’, with the thinking that they provide information the government wants you to consume, while hiding the ‘facts’ that only their alternative media can provide. I can only imagine how such comments are simultaneously amusing and frustrating for Satherley.
Overall, ‘Undelete’ features 20 fantastically produced tracks, with some excellent lyrical content – for me, many of the songs he writes resonate, due to them being about the things I ponder frequently (…particularly while reading social media comment sections…). In addition, demo versions of four songs are tacked on the end. Personally, I rate this as Anecdata’s best since 2017s ‘You Do Not Do’.
Pick up 'Undelete' for the bargain price of $5 on Bandcamp, and all the other usual outlets.