Indie dance-pop artist Simon Curtis became an Internet sensation last year when he released his debut album, 8Bit Heart, for free through his website. The album’s success brought Curtis buzz everywhere from pop-focused websites to Billboard. R∆, which derives its name from Curtis’ fanbase, the “Robot Army,” builds on the heavy electronic brand of dance music first displayed on 8Bit Heart.
Where 8Bit Heart focused primarily on a search for love, though, R∆ finds its primary theme in aggression.From the opening track, “Laser Guns Up,” through tracks like “Pit of Vipers,” “D.T.M.,” and “I Hate U,” an angry undercurrent infiltrates the album.
Other songs on R∆ feel like amplified remakes of songs from 8Bit Heart. In particular, “Flesh” makes the sexual energy of 8Bit Heart’s “Joystick” feel like mere foreplay, while “Soul 4 Sale” runs on themes similar to 8Bit Heart’s “Brainwash.”
The album’s one weakness compared to 8Bit Heart, however slight it may be, comes in its emotional heart. 8Bit’s theme on a search for love brought some honest, intelligent, heart-wrenching lyrics that ran throughout the album. It’s in this area that R∆ is comparatively lacking. The upside, though, is that the two best tracks on the album, “How to Start a War” and “Enemy,” prove that those lyrics do still have a place in Curtis’ albums.
Fans of 8Bit Heart will ultimately find a lot to like on R∆. It successfully builds on Curtis’ particular brand of dance-pop. For new fans, 8Bit Heart is still available for free, making it easy to get a good sample of Curtis’ sound before plunging into purchasing this album. If you’re a fan of dance pop from the past few years, or if you’re a fan of late 90s pop by Britney Spears and *NSYNC, you’ll find a lot to like musically on this album. As Curtis says in the album’s opening line, “The name is S-I-M-O-N, the game is P-O-P.”