ALBUM REVIEW: Synesthesia by Torelli and The Fuse (released 17 July 2014)

TORELLI AND THE FUSE

Torelli and The Fuse are an intriguing group hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, centering around singer and songwriter Dre Torelli. Their music is an eclectic blend of reggae, electronica, pop and RnB, with Torelli’s silken voice and almost operatic range giving the music it’s distinctive flavour which can at times be very commercial and at others daring and experimental. Wittily, they claim not to be reinventing the wheel, but putting new rims on it.

This experimental side surfaces immediately on Stomp Your Feet which introduces the album. Consisting of a catchy refrain over a punchy, mesmerizing groove and subtle strings, it is interspersed with various spoken word samples that refer to the current zeitgeist of technology and its effect on culture and music. It is an apposite starting point as Torelli and The Fuse are very much of the times, blending all kinds of cultural and musical styles, as reflected in the album title.

Next track Life Is A Cycle has a more traditional structure and is essentially a dance track but in no way generic, employing all manner of vocal effects and production techniques. Again the hook is catchy, and I could imagine this both popular on radio and in the clubs, certainly a potential single. Third song People is more laid back in mood and one of the more contemplative tracks lyrically, musing about the relentless pursuit of success: “We hate what is different then turn into what we hate…why do we crucify the ones we praise?

Don’t You Leave and Confrontation (ft. Nadia) are both good showcases for Torelli’s remarkable voice and vocal range, bringing to mind David McAlmont (McAlmont and Butler). The former is another potential single with its radio friendly sound. Grind (feat. David J) and Wild are both well-crafted slices of RnB, Grind even featuring a concise rap section that works well, courtesy of David J.

Hey Girl and Love Me are mellow acoustic ballads that again highlight Torelli’s vocal excellence but several mid-paced and slow tracks in a row do create a slight lull in the pace and momentum of the album. Things are given a jolt of life via The Blame Game, the danciest track on the album featuring an Avicii-style synth riff, pounding beat and extremely memorable chorus. This must be a main contender for a first single, especially with the EDM explosion in the States.

Track eleven Money Hungry is a lyrically acerbic but musically upbeat song, the jaunty vocal melody contrasting nicely with the tale of a shallow gold-digger. I detected elements of country in this track, which further adds to the eclectic blend. Next is Feels So Good, one of the funkiest songs on the album with a distinctive groove and some excellent guitar work. Credit in general should go to the musicians involved the Fuse; Zachary Knight, Jarvis Carpenter and Harrison Blake all contribute in making the Torelli and the Fuse sound unique.

Livin’ The Life is very much another album highlight that is tailor made for the dancefloor. Building upon a foundation of exotic percussion and insistent rhythms, the chorus hook sticks in the mind instantly and the sheer energy and addictiveness of the track makes it yet another perfect song for both radio and the clubs. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t a single.

This brings us to the last track on this album, Foreclosure. It’s a strong finale with a poignant lyric about the end of a relationship: ‘Brand new doors, broken keys…I know you’re gonna hate me as I stayed past the date…’. Musically, it fits the words perfectly, a Coldplay-esque piano figure leading us into the song before building into an understated epic, the longest track at five and a half minutes.

Overall, this album manages to combine catchy and commercial songs with a modern and eclectic range of influences, and takes traditional song structures into quirky and inventive new directions. Perhaps the biggest name in pop at the time of writing is Pharrell Williams, and in Dre Torelli they have a vocalist of at least equal ability and several tracks as potentially successful, in my opinion, whilst maintaining a musical style all of their own. Highly recommended.

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10

 

 

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