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Explorers are, in a way, everything the literal thinker would expect them to be; a synth pop band transporting you somewhere else; artisans of expansive, multi layered sounds existing somewhere in-between the sonic depth of M83 and melodic immediacy of the Naked and Famous. And yet, while the journey is undoubtedly to the stars, there’s a cherishing gaze back to earth too.
Taking their name from a mutual love of Joe Dante’s film, ‘Explorers’, the two piece - Jez Dennis (drums, synth) and Rob Bannister (synth, vocals) came together through a mutual love of nostalgia, 80’s cinema and a ‘DIY’ spirit built in a Chesterfield attic. The sparkling euphoria of the Explorers sound stylishly characterises those effecting instances of Dennis and Bannister’s youthful discovery; infinite in the moment and wistfully recalled with energetic nods to the future.
In an industry increasingly eager to shoehorn today’s artists into neatly organised subcultures, Explorers represent a slightly different proposition. There’s many influences at work here; Dennis previously played in a number of indie rock bands (his previous band, ‘Mybe’ once reached number 3 in the independent singles charts, outselling the likes of Maximo Park and Placebo) and there’s elements of jangly guitars reminiscent of The Cure, drum fills offering knowing nods to latter period Genesis, as well as spacious soundscapes inspired by Bannister’s forays as a filmmaker. The result is songs comfortable taking unscheduled turns while maintaining the melodic warmth of radio-friendly synth pop.
This accessibility has ensured Explorers have been quietly racking up the plays on primetime outlets; ‘Rocketeer’, a synth-indie blast, regularly ticks the boxes for TV shows keen for atmospheric backing and emotive leg-ups for their moving pictures. Such exposure almost does the music a disservice; Explorers are a ‘lights off, cans on’ kind of band – you need to take yourself away and enjoy the journey to really discover where they’re taking you.
In a live setting, the results are all the more enlightening; shows carry an altogether more analog feel, with Dennis’s driving drum sound suiting the rock bands of his past, but juxtaposed with Bannister’s array of digital samples and layered vocal, creates a genuine live sound which is immersive as an experience, rather than simply glowing in the distance.
The back catalogue is again characteristic of the band’s name; the desire to evolve their sound and discover new routes to the stratosphere. Songs such as ‘City Lights’ and ‘Ticket Home’ from 2012’s ‘Souvenirs’ EP stand as initial voyages into digital soundscapes; more recent material, notably, ‘Numbers’ reveal a band more relaxed in their influences and eager to weave old with new.
The band’s desire to produce material on their own terms ensures this sonic exploration remains a varied experience and continues to guide their output in new directions. This variety and scope for the new is exactly why Explorers will continue to take listeners on a journey of synth pop discovery.