Straightforward rhythms and good hooks, with a homespun quality
The throwback impulse has become so predominant in electronic dance music that it’s almost cliché to mention it, and yet it’s hard not to think about the ’80s when you hear Ikonika’s second album. On Aerotropolis, the West London producer (real name: Sara Abdel-Hamid) favors neon-plastic synths redolent of the Miami Vice era, crossed with the beat structures and floor-filling imperative of early house music and techno. (No surprise the album’s title recalls Cybotron, the band Juan Atkins was in before nailing the techno blueprint solo with Model 500.) Like a lot of people who were identified with dubstep in the late 2000s, she’s moved into more straightforward 4/4 rhythms, but even the most obviously anthemic tunes have a homespun quality. She writes good hooks, too, none better than “Lights Are Forever,” a G-funk synth whine that’s far better L.A.-freeway music than most of Random Access Memories.