The Manchester-based five-piece, Mercury Machine, has developed an ‘80s tinged electronica sound which is both nostalgic and modern. The band’s combination of the gentle and the depressive has allowed them to create something brilliant and worth listening to. Their latest single ‘Aurora’ is emotive, expansive and chilling. Undoubtedly their strongest single to date.
Lee Michael Maguire, the band’s vocalist and writer, explains why ‘80s music is so important to him and has chosen his favourite tracks from the era.
As “a child of the eighties”, Lee was enamoured with its glamorous side: “I used to listen to Jean-Michel Jarre – ‘Oxygene’ and ‘Equinoxe’ feeling like I was in space, or Europe – ‘The Final Countdown’ whilst running round the house feeling like I was a character from an action film.”
This was fuelled by his love of film which introduced him to various glittering soundtracks: “Movies were on a roll back then too so soundtrack hits like Jan Hammer’s ‘Crockets Theme’ and Harold Faltermeyer’s Axel F were the soundtracks to my life.”
However, as Lee grew up, he was drawn more and more to music with a darker edge and this influence is evident in his own music: “Tracks of the eighties that had more darkness in them really appealed to me. The songs that expressed a greater range of true emotions, but still had all the synths I could ask for!”
In more recent years, Lee has recognised how important music is to him as a form of expression and release: “As a person who has only recently been diagnosed with autism I realise that I give expression to the frustrations and difficulties I feel in my life through my music. So, I recognise that same voice in others through their lyrics, voice and music.”
Below are Lee’s current top five tracks of the ’80s:
Tears For Fears – Shout
I love this track. I really associate with the frustration in the lyrics and atmosphere. Roland’s voice is amazing. The dark synths are brilliant and I love the arpeggiated bass. It makes me want to get on my recording equipment and write another Mercury Machine song now!
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
I hope I get to write a track this good in my life! The lyrics speak to me about relationships and the difficulties that can be experienced. When he says, “Why is the bedroom so cold/Turned away on your side?/ Is my timing that flawed/Our respect run so dry?”, well I’ve definitely been there. Brilliant tune and I especially love how electronic the music sounds even though there’s only one synth on there and it is all recorded live.
A-Ha – Take On Me
The music and craftsmanship in this song has been a big influence on my song writing and production learning over the years. I think this is possibly one of the best uplifting pop songs ever written. The DX7 bass line bounces so well with the drums and the synth main theme. Brilliant tune and lyrics. It says something that every time this song comes on in a club the whole room sings the chorus and tries to sing the high note. Much to my dismay they usually can. It seems it’s just me and my deep voice that can’t!
Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence
As a sensitive person who can very often struggle to speak to someone face to face without knowing why, I feel like I understand the lyrics to this song very well. “Words like violence/Break the silence/Come crashing in/Into my little world”. The sombre tone in this track says just as much as the words do. Great sounding synths with some of the best synth and electric guitar hooks you can find anywhere.
Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
I remember this was one of the first songs where I remember understanding the chord structure and how it worked. I love the serious atmosphere and the emotional nature of the lyrics. To me Phil is singing about a personal situation in his life. The drums don’t play a prominent role until later in the song and it has such an impact and shows what can happen when you withhold something and then let them have it all at once. I mean everyone knows the drum roll to this song!
Follow the links below to discover Mercury Machine’s music:
By Eveline Vouillemin – Up&Coming