Brian Suarez first rose to fame, or a certain level thereof, as the instigating force behind Gater, an electroclash-era NYC outfit that stood out from its contemporaries for its subdued take on the sound’s often angular version of synthesized dance music. Many in that early-’00s scene adopted a willfully cynical, heavily eyelinered, campy-punky attitude of detachment; Suarez and his music, on the other hand, came off as charming, and even a bit cuddly. (One Gater concession to the scene’s eccentric demands was to feature vocalists named Chesty Morganstein and Her.) His current project, Allies For Everyone, is still imbued with that aura of innocence that he’s always cultivated in his music—but his latest release, the Atonement EP on Blindfold Recordings, sees Suarez straying ever so slightly from his pop-tinged, glimmer-house comfort zone toward something with a touch more darkness flowing through it.
Of course, that’s not to say that you’re like to hear Adam X or any of the Sandwell District alumni dropping Atonement’s tracks into their sets: There still aren’t many sharp edges to Suarez’s music, and there’s an alluring, dreamy feel running throughout the EP. But the typical Allies For Everyone mood, one of blurry-eyed optimism, has been replaced by a feeling of wistful melancholy. That’s particularly true of the title track; “Atonement” is a sigh of a tune, with Suarez’s breathy vocals (singing “I will stand as still as stone/I will make my darkest known/Everything that I've done wrong/ with this breath I will atone”) floating above a thick four-to-the-floor kick, sustained bass tones and synth washes, and an array of echoing pings and pongs. Danish producer Sivesgaard, on remix duty, accentuates the song’s melancholy via his remix’s gorgeously soaring keys, its cavernous effects giving his version a grandly opulent feel. Flipside cut “Walls,” meanwhile, will probably garner the most dancefloor action—it’s tonally similar to “Atonement,” but with acidic squelches in place of Suarez’s vocals, it’s a bit more menacing than most Allies material. It’s another strong piece of work for an artist who deserves more recognition.