A City Heart - If You Ever Had a Chance, Then It Was Now
Record Label: None
Release Date: August 28, 2007
A City Heart’s debut EP If You Ever Had a Chance, Then It Was Now passes through the hearing valves like a snifter of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, having the drink’s intoxicating cherry brandy flavoring coating the pearlescent electro pop tiles and the gliding texture of sparkling water, which enable the songs to go in easy. A City Heart is the side project of Kris Keyser (programming, instrumentation, and backup vocals) and Dustin Kniffen (lead vocals and vocal programming). Produced by Keyser and Kniffen, the album has a seraphim quality in the electro pop ethos resembling the synth-glaciers of new wave artists like The Human League and Information Society solidified with contemporary sounding melodies liken to modern day ambient pop artists like Lost Ocean and Shapes Stars Make. It’s a new age for electro pop artists, who have found a new level of serenity in synth-pop camphors, making the album a place that respects peace, something like a temple in Tibet.
Though the songs create melodic towers with electro pop shields, they still feel accessible to the listener. The soft electro pop cilia’s of “Explosions” are framed by gently looping strings while the synth pop typing of “Don’t Be a Stranger” has digital clicks that dunk and surge varying the radiance of the notes. The tapping beats of “Maybe It’s Varity” are layered by bricks of digital passages and vibrating synths with beacons of futuristic effects. I know that’s an odd description, but it is one way to express A City Heart’s music, which works with notes as if they are lights whose luster is manipulated to form melodic lines. The electro sounding glazes of “And Now It’s My Story” glitter like a piece of quartz in the sun, and its sweetly pitched wrappings through ”Decorate the Sky” wave blissfully like a leaf caught in a warm breeze. The emotive registers of Kniffen’s vocals in “Thought Patterns” are akin to Secondhand Serenade’s John Vesely, although Kniffen’s lyrics are more profound as he rings out, “You were always so careful with your words / Watching you now / It’s like we were lost in the silence / Between the touch of sound and body / To sing our song like it was our first.” The lyrics have elements of sentimentality and symbolism uniquely relating to each other.
A City Heart document The Postal Service and Sigur Ros as some of their musical influences, although these influences are faint in the duo’s music. Keyser and Kniffen seem more inspired by their musical influences than actually trying to copy them in their EP If You Ever Had a Chance, Then It Was Now. The duo’s music is aurally pleasing, similarly to the way a cocktail of A Midsummer Night’s Dream can consume one's blood vessels. The album has ambient lifts that renew new wave's synth-driven melodies while giving them a contemporary finish.