This Side of Paradise


Tackling the challenge of a second album head-on, Coma return to the fore with This Side of Paradise, a comprehensive and meticulously-arranged collection that never strays far from the duo's well-established modus operandi. This Side of Paradise is truly refined pop music that takes its cues from both sides of the musical fence. A further exploration and expansion of the territory initially explored on Coma's first full-length, In Technicolor (KOMP 106CD/KOM 279LP, 2013), This Side of Paradise shows the artists commanding their craft with confidence and style -- a sonic treat for seasoned connoisseurs and recent scholars alike. Sometimes described as songwriters who don't actually write songs, Coma tend to nudge the genre-boundaries without making this their central artistic statement -- they're not in the game to search and destroy, but to meet and seduce, in a constant effort to make music that is as innovative and multilayered as it is accessible. It's an endless process of reevaluating their own tropes that leads the duo to the unconventional but immensely catchy hooks on tracks like "Borderline," "Pinguin Power," and "Happiness," half-sung and half-synthesized. Coma don't want to settle on whether they actually are a dance act or a pop outfit: "We always try to rethink what we're doing. At one point we even thought about dropping the melodies altogether, because melodic techno has become kinda prevalent. But that wouldn't be us either -- we love a good melody as much as the next person." The receptiveness for cognition glitches and happy accidents might be behind Coma's obvious penchant for cooperation; This Side of Paradise's most classic songwriting appears on "The Wind," a dreamy, melancholic, downbeat gem featuring vocals from frequent collaborator Dillon. Meanwhile, another old friend has switched roles: Mit's lead singer Edi Winarni returns after his cameo on In Technicolor, but this time he's responsible for the cover art, based on his own sculptural work and created from archetypes of bird beaks in front of a heavily processed white screen. It asks basically the same question that the band does: how much beak do you need to recognize the bird? How much melody do you need to be pop? How many beats until you're part of the club continuum? Coma's true achievement might be in asking themselves these kinds of critical, potentially thwarting questions, but still remaining able to produce beautiful music that speaks to both the body and the soul.