By: Matt Terl

In a pan-global music scene that features some monstrously stupid genre names, “emotronica” might very well be the stupidest. Since no one really seems to have a handle on what emo is (or, more accurately, everyone has a different handle on it), and electronica was a word made up by nine guys in a boardroom in 1997, emotronica should by all rights be a term completely bereft of meaning.

Instead, it’s somehow an accurate description of Her Space Holiday’s music. Marc Bianchi’s flat, confessional vocals tell familiar stories of heartbreak above a synthetic string section and simple beats. It’s all grafted together with Bianchi’s healthy pop sensibility and surprisingly strong production work to create music that would really defy genre classification, if people weren’t so fond of neologisms like emotronica.

Bianchi has been creating music as Her Space Holiday since 1996, as well as doing remix work for acts like the Faint, Bright Eyes, and R.E.M., among others. His sound has grown over the years, becoming more baroque and ornate while also becoming far more infectious and catchy, a tough trick to pull off. The songs are pop fizz that all sound slightly familiar: Just when you’re sure that it’s because all good pop songs have that effect, a recognizable melody line or allusive chorus turns you around again.

On The Past Presents the Future, the latest Her Space Holiday album, Bianchi downplays the confessional aspect of his lyrics and highlights their storytelling side. On “A Small Setback to a Great Comeback,” he throws phone messages into music to make the soundtrack of an epic love affair, and on the title track, he adapts a page from Brian Wilson’s book and closes the album with the sound of passing traffic, barking dogs, and chirping birds.

For all that, though, the album’s strongest moments are its most straightforward pop songs, like the opener, “Forever and a Day,” and especially the infectious “You and Me,” which features the best synth woodwind solo in a long time.

Maybe it’s emotronica, maybe it’s baroque indie pop, maybe there’s some other made-up genre name in waiting. Whatever it is, it does exactly what it sets out to do, and does it well. And, really, what more can you ask?

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