It should be of surprise to absolutely no one that Between the Buried and Me frontman Tommy Rogers doesn’t like to sit still. While his 2004 solo debut Giles was hardly a serious effort, but 2011’s Pulse (the first under current project Thomas Giles) painted Rogers as a capable and serious musician in his own right across several genres, including progressive rock, industrial, electronic, and folk. Pulse was a portrait of an artist trying different things, but its follow-up Modern Noise was where Rogers truly appeared to find his artistic voice as a more focused and stylistically cohesive record.
One might extrapolate upon the progress of Modern Noise and assume that the Thomas Giles project would elaborate upon some of the industrial-tinged prog rock stylings for its follow up. However, in keeping times with the resurgence of retrofuturistic 80’s synth worship, Rogers’ latest effort Velcro Kid sports a healthy dose of influence from the likes of John Carpenter, Depeche Mode, and David Bowie, setting up an entirely new field of sonic textures for Rogers to explore.
As trendy as the retrosynth style may be in pop culture following the rise of Perturbator and the noteworthy Stranger Things soundtrack, to call Rogers a trendhopper would be a mistake despite the change in trajectory. Rogers has been toying with various electronic genres since Giles, and Modern Noise featured plenty of tracks with minimal to no analog instrumentation. Rogers’ little-known forray into film score with Dutch Book was a likely inspiration, and a potential stylistic precursor for Velcro Kid can even be heard during much of Coma Ecliptic’s “Rapid Calm.” Suffice it to say, Velcro Kid offers a fresh perspective for Rogers fit for the contemporary electronic scene, but it’s not as if this is completely unheard of from Rogers.
With its tight focus in synth-lead soundscapes and digital samples, Velcro Kid is Rogers’ most stylistically cohesive record to date. It’s not a bad thing, either; Rogers has demonstrated time and time again that he is adept at crafting experimental records that meander through disparate genres, and this new reigned-in focus is yet another testament to Rogers’ talents as a versatile musician. The standard pop structure common across Velcro Kid makes for some of his catchiest work to date; the Bowie nod in Jake Troth collab “Devotion” is a revelation for Rogers, and the haunting “Slow Gold Becoming” is the crown jewel of the Thomas Giles project thus far.
“Strangers In A Paranoid Mind” is an aggressive industrial stomp that feels familiar to some of Rogers’ past solo work. The quirky and airy “Gazer” perfectly compliments the Devin Townsend feature and feels like a natural and effortless collaboration between the two artists. Velcro Kid closes on its bouncy title track, a delightfully cheesy and earnest take on synthpop.
It’s clear that Rogers continues to grow as a solo musician, becoming increasingly proficient as a keyboard player and electronic artist. The synthwave style suits him well, and should he feel the desire to revisit the genre in future Thomas Giles outings, he’ll certainly be poised and capable of taking it to new places. Velcro Kid was unexpected in many ways, but it’s no surprise that Rogers knocked it out of the park.
Velcro Kid released last week on Sumerian Records. You can grab it right here.