Even the most cursory listen to Escape Yourself, the debut full-length from the reportedly now-defunct Montroal pop-dance duo Footprintz, broadcasts Adam Hunter's and Clarian North's fondness for new wave. Indebted to giants like New Order and Depeche Mode, but just as comparable to contemporary acts like Cut Copy, the pair wears its influences on its sleeve. Particularly on "Fear of Numbers," Hunter's and North's latest album single, the enduring specters of Sumner, Hook, and Morris can be felt as synth-bass stabs and the digitized thwack of a snare poke holes in the song's dreamy and wistful melody and backup harmonies. Melancholy and mysterious, Hunter's lyrics paint a pastiche of "the battle scars of tainted hearts," "a world in relapse," and a "change in the weather." Striking in its imagery but lacking in lyrical cohesion, "Fear of Numbers" succeeds in honoring its synth-pop forebears but falters at saying much of its own.
Precarious as "Fear of Numbers" may be at times, its more finely tuned musical components have been culled for interpretation by seasoned British remix talent Leo Elstob (a.k.a. Leo Zero), who imparts his cosmic-acid-leftfield-disco aesthetic across a handful of remixes. Giving the track dancefloor potential in a remix and dub pairing, Elstob's overt references to his source material are few, favoring Footprintz's lyric-less harmonies for most of the former, and keeping only the essence of the original on the latter. Rooted in a live-seeming cosmic shuffle, each version is a tripped excursion in anti-gravity flanger and meandering, melodic acid lines. "Fear of Numbers" warms under Leo Zero's charge, turning on its stark, synthesized mechanics to wade in a more psychedelic, organic groove. A final, "alternative dub" sees Elstob playing at Hunter's and North's game, lightening up the mood for the release's final refrain with his own synth-pop interpretation that leaves more of "Fear of Numbers" intact. As the clean strumming of guitar, rolling drum-machine beat, and soothing celestial chords coast toward the track's final moments, it's fair to say that, a few lyrical missteps aside, each mix here treads a distinct musical trail worth following.