Toxic Planet by Cobra Man is an ironic, yet energetic take on 1980s disco and synth pop tunes. The the up and coming duo poke fun at the concept of overdoing it while still keeping it simple with consistent and lively beats/riffs. What really makes this album stand out to me is that it was created as a score for a skateboarding video, yet it retains total validity as an album on its own.
I loved the band’s appeals to cliches, I found myself laughing out loud at what they managed to revive from a long-dead era. Lyrics like “We’re coming to your town” paired with high frequency waves and heavy, flanged synth chords really nail the theme they’re going for.
A majority of the instrumental and vocal tones sound straight out of the 80s, but still keep a slight personal and modern touch. Every song has a straightforward and snare-ridden beat that sounds like it was copied and pasted from Tron. Regardless, the beats almost guiltily keep my toe tapping and act as a foundation for each track to build off of. Despite the irony, a lot of the melodies and choruses were pretty impressive. For a genre that’s practically been wrung dry, it was cool to see a band find new avenues within it. A lot of the arpeggiated synth notes worked nicely and were implemented very appropriately in terms of when and how much they should be. Every song is it’s own version of catchy, and typically stays stuck in my head for quite a while.
Living in Hell and Rogue are my favorite tracks on the album. I appreciate Living in Hell because it exemplifies everything I like about the album in one song: cheesy synth and vocals, heavy headbanging guitar choruses accompanied by soft strums during verses, and fun, catchy vocal and instrumental melodies. The bassline goes up and down but perfectly loops back, it’s almost as if I can feel the scale. I particularly liked Rogue because it was a completely new musical direction for the band. Rather than including their typical powerful synth chords and high-pitched yelling, Cobra Man sticks to soft vocals and an acoustic guitar aided by nothing more than a slight phaser effect. Not only was this a new approach for the band, but the genre in general. I can’t say I’ve heard a phased acoustic guitar before, although they managed to make it work quite elegantly. I’m only left to wonder if they titled the track Rogue to emphasize their derivative approach to the mainstream formula they spent an entire album making fun of.