There are few releases I can remember looking forward to as much as Timecop1983's latest offering Reflections. In fact, the last time I remember even counting down to an album's release date was October of 2007, when Say Anything released a fantastic punk album and Coheed & Cambria released an okay metal album. All of this is to say that Timecop1983, at this point an expert at crafting nostalgia in his own unique sound, has succeeded in creating something that inspires the same sort of wistful youthfulness of times when "you have to hear this song, it'll change your life" was a sincere expression, and when one of your favorite artist's new album's release date was the most important thing on your radar.
Reflections wasted no time in fulfilling my expectations. "Before Dawn" more or less does what it sets out to do. It spends under two minutes crafting an atmosphere that is very similar to Waves and Journeys, yet more refined and sonically broader. It leads directly into "Don't Let Go", a track featuring Dana Jean Phoenix on vocals. Journeys opened with a slightly similar song, "Dreams", which was my favorite song on that album. Despite sharing a vocalist, "Don't Let Go" feels different from "Dreams" in large part due to the bigger sound of Reflections. The following song, "New Horizons", is my second favorite on the entire album. Atmospherically it's strange. If you were to hear the song independent of the beat, you would think it was a slow, melancholic track. The beat pushes the song into really upbeat territory and makes it immediately stand out. My first listen of this album had me desperately fighting myself from listening to this again before finishing the album. I strongly encourage anybody who purchases the entire thing to listen straight through. One of the strongest aspects of this album is the track listing. After listening through a few times, I can't imagine the tracks in any other order. Everything builds to something.
My favorite moment of the album is "Lost Without You". As much as I enjoy Matt Turkington's crescendo, the combination of dreamy melody with the vocoder-laced vocals is my favorite sound in any song from the past two years. "Secrets" creates a nice emotional bridge between that and "My First Crush", which has Trevor Something on vocals. The who's who of collaborators never feels like a novelty or compilation album. These are, without a doubt, Timecop1983 songs. They have the very distinct sound that he has. "My First Crush" is my favorite song on the album, hands down. It is also my favorite song of 2015. Like so many other places in Timecop1983's discography, nostalgia and the future are given equal weight. The song is futuristic in so many respects. The way the main vocal hook is so unique and interesting and the mood of the song has a floating-in-space feel. It is able to simultaneously exist with these components in a distinctly retro aesthetic. The guitar in the song is a microcosm of this. It sounds simultaneously like an old recording and a crisp, synthesized melody.
"Distant Hearts", the penultimate track, is another highlight. It showcases Time1983's ability to layer sounds that are so different from each other, while simultaneously existing as perfect complements. At 1:09 a melody comes in that I swear gives me an ASMR reaction. I listened that melody alone and got chills multiple times. Like so much on this album, it just works. The aptly titled "After Life (outro)" concludes the album. Much like how "Before Dawn" welcomed you into the album, "After Life (outro)" fondly bids you adieu. This contributes to the sense of cohesion the album sticks to so strongly. Journeys was an album that really pulled me into this scene. I imagine that is the case for a number of the newer fans of NRW. Reflections is going to do the same thing. It is everything I wanted the album to be, yet still blew me away.