The Finnish electronic music scene is bristling with creativity in several areas, but orthodox synthesizer pop is not one of them. Romantic Vision is just about the only band of note swearing by this genre in Finland today, a band that has spent the seven years since their promising debut album in complete silence. When “Original Retro” (that was actually released under the band name Kinetic due to extensive changes in the band’s line up, which has since reverted to the original constellation) appeared in 1998, I was stunned that such an able and promising new romantic act existed in Finland. Then, all too quickly they were gone, back in the underground, giving way to the era of euro techno sleaze and love metal.
Now Romantic Vision has finally broken its silence, perhaps urged on by the emergence of new Finnish darkwave and gloomy pop acts such as Viola, Iconcrash and Ultranoir, many of whom apparently frequented an indie music store in Tampere operated by members of Romantic Vision.
The new album “Pleasure Object” has neat new wave style guitar work and a couple of catchy attention grabbers, notably “Worldwide Panic” and “Adult to Adult”. Tami Tamminen delivers his vocals in an unaffected style that sits well with the steady electronic beats and chilly keyboard sounds. Yet the album reflects the background of the band, sounding competent but lacking the immediacy and nerve of the new upstarts mentioned above, who are otherwise inferior to Romantic Vision in most aspects. I do not hear the quirkiness, hunger and ambition present on “Original Retro”, only the know-how and the melodies. After a strong start, the album gets too bland toward the middle, lacking proper hooks.
The last track, the instrumental “Dear Beloved” carries itself with a wistful beauty and broadens the creative scope of the band. At the same time it betrays a sense of tiredness contrasting with my image of Romantic Vision/Kinetic: a band that packs a punch.