The Model Physical (Playloop)
Late to the party, but what an entrance
As the opening synths of “What Does It Look Like I’m Doing” drop into arpeggiated spirals and emotionally wrenched vocals, it’s clear this Philly outfit knows its way around the resurgent synth-pop blueprint. Filled with layers of over-the-top catchy synth hooks to match the overwrought vocals occasionally indulging in falsettos, The Model’s debut disc sounds like a lost ’80s treasure. But it’s not a one-note revival; “Immigrant” takes on the slinky grind of early Nine Inch Nails, and “Cowboys” looks to early techno. This band is starting in the past, and there’s room to grow. — Noah Levine
Misery, Love, Company
Get down with The Model.
When they’re making music, Mark Richardson and John Woods hardly seem half as miserable as they are when they talk about it.
Yet pry into the backstory regarding Richardson’s lyrics, and there’s often a hard, sad catch to them. Like “N/A.” “I was in love with a borderline,” says Richardson about the tune’s state of dire amour. “Do you know what borderline personality disorder is?”Singer/lyricist Richardson and multi-instrumentalists Woods and Jason Buzolits do a sprightly romantic, handily literate brand of electro-pop on their band The Model’s debut, Physical, on Philly’s Playloop label. Think Depeche Mode without the doomy fetishism and Fischerspooner without the sense of failure and you get the zest of giddy Model tracks “What Does It Look like I’m Doing?” and “I Won’t Be Hanging Out Anymore.” Physical‘s finest songs are theatrical, sarcastic, philosophical and zealous. They are as much man as they are machine.
Or “Success.” “It’s a PSA for those of us who are never satisfied,” claims Richardson.
Or “Immigrant.” “The music came from a song I recorded in 1997, from my Run-DMC years. I don’t think I was having any sex while I recorded the vocals for the record, this song in particular.”
Woods’ stories of how The Model found its debonair pose are equally forlorn.
“The way I remember it is this: I made a CD, Attacktion, inspired by Patrick Cowley and other early Hi-NRG artists popular amongst gay crowds around the turn of the ’80s. Markie got a hold of a copy through a friend, enjoyed it and sought me out to remix songs for him. And it did not go well.”
Woods didn’t initially go for Richardson’s Model tunes — they were “too easy to compartmentalize into the ‘retro’ category, with something a little too raw and simple about them.” Next thing Woods knew, he got roped into producing and mixingPhysical on a massive old analog console with knobs the size of minidoughnuts, with layer upon layer of electronic bass, orchestras of synths and tambourine. “Lots of tambourine,” says Woods. And though he retreats to the mad and the moody when discussing Physical (“The mixing process was a nightmare. There are mistakes all over it”) and becoming a Model (“I hate bands and swore I’d never play in one again”), Woods comes clean. “It’s the best nightmare I ever had.”
Richardson too takes some convincing when it comes to finding joy in the process. Before The Model, the Jersey native was in Crystal Skulls. Richardson had just returned from playing keyboards and singing with Christian Wargo (now in Fleet Foxes) in 2006, emotionally and physically battered. But he still wanted something more from music. “I hated touring, and became suicidal — the sticky van seats in summer, the 4 a.m. check-in and 9 a.m. checkouts, the Midori and Sprite every night and candy from Taco Bell at some truck stop in North Dakota. Actually I just hated playing in someone else’s band.”
Richardson started writing Physical while running his parents’ ’50s-style beach motel in Wildwood and only barely looked back. “Hey, it’s out of that milieu that the lightness and schizophrenia of Physical came through.”
Reviewed by Amorn Bholsangngam
The slick, stylish pop of Philadelphia electronic trio The Model is just as aesthetically pleasing as any of the long-legged, platinum-haired human mannequins that wander freely outside our Beverly Hills office though not nearly vacant as you’d presume those vixens would be. J Buz, Johnny, and Markie craft life-sized hooks over gently strobing instrumentals that will stick in your head longer than the hottest image in your favorite maternity wear catalog. Their debut record Physical possesses a very fitting title; this is music that is hard not to react physically to, inciting impromptu dance parties, orgies, and head-bobbing sessions across the land. “Do You Believe in Angels” is just a slice of this promising band’s infectious blend of anthemic melodies, dancefloor-ready beats, lovesick vocals, and shimmering synthwork.
The Model Big Shot Magazine Feature & Review
The Model = The Faint + She Wants Revenge + INXS
The groove of this record makes me want to direct The Model’s music videos with leather-clad, 80s rock-gods like icon Michael Hutchinson (INXS) staring into the camera and singing/whispering with eyes as intense as their motive for creating music. You can picture it, can’t you? The motive in the case of The Model (frontman Markie and keyboardists Ziggy, Jason, Johnny) began as a semi-annual philosophic-pop-costume party in Philadelphia—where it’s always sunny. Today, The Model is exactly as their name implies: a perfect example for dance parties they (and Girl Talk) have made infamous by mixing their own synth-noise into sexy, 80s, I-am-who-I-am-movie-attitude, like their anthem “I Won’t Be Hanging Out Anymore.” They play new-wave synth very well, blending that style with modern techno effects and beats for hopeful romantics (or those just swaying alone), like the Simple Minds-influenced “Do You Believe In Angels.” Markie’s deep, haunted vocals are similar to Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), only lacking the self-loathing which is replaced with a becoming maturity. Expect to hear The Model at every club/dance party this next year. –Jennifer Nielsen
Playloop posters and press clippings.
Philly City Paper, Big Shot Magazine, DJ TIMES, OCI Magazine, Slug, Mean Street and URB.
Event posters from: Dave Hughes of Ireland, Deadmau5, Disco Biscuits, King Britt, Natalie Walker and The Model