Personnel: Nic Lang (vocals); Jake Martinez (guitar); Mark Gregory (synthesizer); Will Litton (drums).
Synthetic ID's second album, Impulses, is a jumpy, jerky bit of post-punk that fairly leaps out of the speakers and into the listener's lap like a hyperactive dog, twitching and looking for attention. Fronted by Nic's yelpy vocals and Jake's jagged guitar chords and fragmented lead lines, the band conjures up nostalgic thoughts of Devo, Pere Ubu, and the Fall, bands that couched their hooks in barbed wire and had enough off-kilter energy to power a small city. Synthetic ID may lack the originality that made those bands the legends they are, but they play their songs with enough vim and vigor to make Impulses a fun listen. It may start to wear thin on the second half as the similarity of the songs kicks in, but there's always something -- a rubbery bassline, a sharp-as-ice guitar riff, or a shouted bit of angry wit -- that impels one to make it all the way to the end. The occasional oddball song like "Changing Frequencies," which does exactly what it says and throws some nicely droning, slow-motion rhythm into the mix, also helps to keep things from blurring together in a shuddering ball of white-hot energy. Even though it may not be the best album on the block, Impulses is fun if you like a slivers-of-guitar-in-your-eye kind of listen, and it shows the kind of promise that could make Synthetic ID a band to watch in the future. ~ Tim Sendra