Love Bites: A Review of Vampire Step-Dad’s FIRST Masterpiece

 Original Synth

Love Bites - Vampire Step-dad

5 notesLove Bites by Vampire Step-Dad is a modern day classic of the synthwave genre. I don’t suggest that lightly either. As a fan of outrun or whatever you want to call it, I am well aware that there have been several releases in the past couple of years that deserve attention but none, if I am to trust my ears with all the repeated listens they’ve demanded since its February 14th debut (which I do), provide the electronic sin and syrup that can be found dripping on each of Love Bites’ seven tracks.

Love Bites is Vampire Step-Dad’s fourth release and, with his fifth release (NIGHT:SHIFT) due in November of this year; I’m not yet ready to let go of these tunes or share them with another collection so I thought I’d immortalize my thoughts about them with the written word; the arp patterns and basslines are THAT good.

Vampire Step-Dad is his own super-SONIC secret. Know that, kiddos. And with this release, he exits the coffin to bathe in his own light.

Love Bites - Vampire Step-dad

Weaving killer guitar solos in and out of the electronic landscapes he’s created, Love Bites immediately brings to mind a long lost teen dramedy from the era of John Hughes moviemaking. There are images suggested by these layered instrumentals that just scream for a film to accompany it. The titles form our narrative. From “The First Date” to “The Skating Rink” and, ultimately, “The Funeral”, there IS a movie tucked inside all these delays and double-handed piano parts that, with steely-eyed devotion, sound as unflappable as the saxophone that slices through “The Cough” does. These nostalgic melodies are catchy and will be endlessly resurrected on your Walkman due to their hypnotic charm.

The opening of Love Bites, with yet another commercial for Vlad’s successful (and fake) sitcom, establishes the fact that, in spite of the tasty hooks that soon follow; the producer doesn’t take himself too seriously. But then track one begins, the aforementioned “The First Date”, and – damn – you just have to sit back and listen as the breath in your body is physically removed thanks to the crushing melody (and those bottoms!!!) as two tweens embark on a journey of love and of loss. With nuanced pauses in between each beat, we soon realize that this song collection is their soundtrack. And then there’s that flagship guitar of Vlad’s slicing through the tune. That Top Gun anthem ain’t got shit on Vlad’s mad skills.

Love Bites - Vampire Step-dad

With a pause long enough solely for one quick gulp, “The First Date” is followed by the majestic (and highly danceable) tones of “The Skating Rink”, you know, that place where all young lovers meet up and neck the night away. We even get a syncopated beat buried under the mix as the synth-lines crank up the main phrase with a soaring confidence largely missing from the genre. Few follow these footprints. “The Promise Ring” brings things back down with a mesmerizing piece that is surprisingly introspective with its wandering notes. This is augmented briefly with the wash of “The Proposal” and its steady beat.

Which leaves us with the steady echo of “The Cough” as it returns us to a deliciously cunning tune that is made whole by a wicked sax solo from Chris J. Hampton. And then, with the effect of falling rain and thunder, we are taken to church by the entrancing finale of “The Funeral” where you have no choice but to observe as, one by one, the candles lit during this seven song cycle are all, one by one, blown out.

Love Bites - Vampire Step-dad

All of these unforgettable melodies make Love Bites a damn beautiful listen. Inspired, even. And you know what? The whole soundtrack without a moving image theory works. Absolutely. Forget the missing images; they are already there dancing about in the tunes themselves. These songs arouse their own art. Love Bites, if you had (or is it heard?) no other example from the synthwave genre is proof enough that music matters in cinema, no matter how good or bad it is.

Vlad Lugosi, I have a feeling that the kids in the neighborhood are gonna l-u-v all over you and your favorite sweater.

P.S. I know where you live, Vlad. Prepare for a visit.

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