The synth/goth/pop duo of Miracle, which consists of singer Daniel O’Sullivan(Ulver, Sunn O))), Guapo) and keyboardist Steve Moore(Zombi and of great film scores), mined early 80s alternative on their first album Mercury back in 2013. If you grew up pining for lost love listening to albums like This Mortal Coil’s Filigree & Shadow and Depeche Mode’s Music For The Masses, then Mercury hit a very particular nerve with you(as it did me.)
Legend has it that Zombi and Guapo toured together in 2006 and one evening Moore and O’Sullivan indulged in some psychotropic drugs. After communicating telepathically they decided to make music together. It took nearly 7 years, but they did find each other again and put out their debut in 2013(as well as switching from psychic connections to Verizon.) Over four years later Steve Moore and Daniel O’Sullivan have returned with their second Miracle album called The Strife Of Love In A Dream. It seems these two have gone back to capture that feeling of their psychotropic mind meld, as this record is far more experimental and out there than Mercury was. It still has all the vibes of those dance-y 80s Goth bands, but with a little more emphasis on spaced-out bliss.
The first thing to hit your ears is “The Parsifal Gate”. It’s an absolute galactic freak out of a track. There are some serious Zombi vibes as the song opens(much more than there ever was on that debut record.) O’Sullivan uses his baritone voice like some galactic being. He’s tapping into some Gregorian Chant vibes along with psychedelic overtones. The synth and drums push along hard like an Escape Velocity b-side. It’s a pretty out there track, but in the best way possible. “Light Mind” has a Depeche Mode vibe, but with Miracle’s twist on their sound. “Night Sides” changes things up considerably. Darkly lit with distant synths and rumbling percussion that sounds like it’s coming from some ancient cavern, O’Sullivan’s Sunn O))) chops come into good use here. This track is all distant lights, dystopian dreams, and LSD-prompted spiritual journeys. “Sulfer” has the sound of some lost 80s soundtrack theme. Moore keeps things moodier when scoring films, so hearing something as wistful as this is a welcomed change. Of course his Zombi pal/drummer extraordinaire A.E. Paterra does a tasteful job on the percussion side.
The thing that strikes me about The Strife Of Love In A Dream is that it feels so open to new ideas. Miracle could’ve easily come back with another Depeche Mode-loving LP and I’d a been happy with that. But instead of doing something familiar and safe Moore and O’Sullivan took four years to create something unique, adventurous, and at times out there. Tracks like “The Seventeen Nineties” , “Dreamours” and album closer “Angelix” aren’t safe bets. They’re expanding on the familiar and making something new and exciting.
Miracle have made a solid follow up to a solid debut. The Strife Of Love In A Dream captures the best of early 80s synth pop and pushes it into new artistic directions. Steve Moore and Daniel O’Sullivan seem to have locked in together psychically once again. This time no psychotropics required. I mean, unless you want ’em. I’m not judging.
8.2 out of 10