The McKenzie FIX explore a surreal mixture of gothic dream imagery with a distinctly 80s pop flair. Every single sound appears to have been carefully selected for maximum effect. From the potency of the drum machines to the sweeping synthesizers, there is a supernatural quality to the entirety of the album. Songs blend together into a vast kaleidoscopic array of colors. A true ear for melody appears throughout as there is a unique gracefulness to the way that these pieces unfurl. Layer upon layer gets applied with such care as the sound at times veers into the absolute symphonic. Nicely resting in the very center of it all are those haunted, lovely vocals. Lyrics have their own poetry to them as weird, woozy narratives cascade throughout.
References abound over the course of the album. In terms of the slightly darkened path that the lyrics embark upon, they touch upon the dramatic impulses of the Cure. Like the Cure, they too let the hooks rest front and center of the action. Cryptic lyricism too draws heavily from a gothic rock sort of spirit, as elements feel reminiscent of the poppy side of Tones on Tails. Everything about the album is a pure maze, from the incredible wordplay employed over the duration to the ornate way the many different elements seem to slowly yet surely transform into new and unexpected things. Forgoing the obvious, theirs is a subtler shade of pop and they understand it well.
Opener and title track “Pandora’s Box” set the tone of the album. Stately riffs intermingle with nimble percussion to create a plastic symphonic sound that brings to mind early Bjork. “Alone” strips the sound down to the essentials as they embrace a hypnotic intimacy. Going for a playful disposition “The Shining” is a beautiful piece, as the way the melodies flutter through radiates warmth. Quite spacious “When Nobody Listens” allows a reflective quality to settle. Lyrics serve as the focal point on the transfixing journey of “Waiting”. A vast geography unfurls on “Visitors” as the mantra becomes hypnotic.
By far the highlight of the album, blending its dark and light influences is the soulful “Martin & The Artist”. The buildup of the piece feels gorgeous, from the synthesized strings to the otherworldly storytelling. Continuing on this lighter note is the celebratory “Midnight Blue”. Impeccable graceful guitar gestures lead the way with “Only Silence Remains”. With “Winter In The Machines” the piece veers wildly, as sudden bursts of energy give it an air of mystery. Sprawling and ambitious “Don’t Feed On Me” features a clever narrative that unfurls with majesty. Effortlessly bringing things to a close is the soothing “Pandora’s Box (Reprise)”.
“Pandora’s Box” shows off a theatrical flair and a clever knack for pacing, proofing the McKenzie FIX to be creators of their own strange and wonderful sonic world.