While the influences that helped shape Admirers' debut LP Involuntary Memory can be felt from the opening pulse of album starter "Return," (Nile Rodgers, Roxy Music, Italo Disco) the record subverts the traditional notion of "synth pop" at every turn. Veering seamlessly from the Nile Rodgers inspired funk of "Return," to the synth-laden dreamscapes of M83, Admirers' mastermind Mike James shares the same sandbox with these diverse artists, but creates his own reality on every track. The secret may lie in the album's title: Involuntary Memory is the culmination of the cinematic, literary, and musical influences flowing through James. A lifelong, pop culture junkie, James toured the world during his time in early aughts indie darlings Longwave, before founding his own projects, most notably Mikey Jukebox. While Admirers' upbeat, dance aesthetic may be a departure from James' previous output, it's a reflection of all that has come before, and where the future lies. "I listen to everything really," explains James. "And they all shape me. From Pete Seeger and Al Jolson to World Music to Autechre to Beatles and Stones to Stone Roses & Smiths."
Produced, recorded, and mixed by James with help from legendary producer John Hampton (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Big Star) at the historic Memphis-based Ardent Studios, Involuntary Memory is a tribute to the slew of production techniques James gleaned from records all over the musical map. There are shades of glam, disco, Britpop, '80s R&B, EDM, post-punk and lo-fi indie rock. Technical mastery aside, the through-line remains James' whip-smart, pop songwriting chops and a quirky, ethereal romanticism that feels suited to a nighttime driving montage, or a dimly-lit, smoky after-hours club.
"The record was made entirely at night, between 11pm- 4am," recalls James. "It was intentional, and simply what our schedule allowed. And, I will not lie, I didn’t hide from this knowing Bowie’s Station to Station was done all at night. And if I listen to it during the day, it seems weird. It doesn’t sit well with me. But put it on at 12:23 am and it feels right." Regardless of the setting or context, Involuntary Memory is one of the most immediately infectious records of the year.