It’s Like You Never Went Away is the stunning debut EP by Goldroom, a DJ who’s been getting some serious accolades as of late. And when you listen to this, you’ll know why. Not only is he a beat maestro, he can write some serious pop tunes to boot. Here, he delivers four songs, each featuring a different guest vocalist, and all of which sound different from each other, another thing he deserves props for. I mean, most DJs turn songwriters tend to wind up releasing an album where you’d swear you’re just listening to one long song by the time it’s over.
The EP opens with “California Rain,” a fine gem of a song with glimmering synth, slick bass guitar, throbbing beats and a whole lot of handclaps. “I’m not alone when I’m alone with you,” sings Nikki Segal, her voice pretty and light, as if it’s rising high above the rain clouds during a sun shower. The thing I like most about this one is, well, the fact that it references rain in California. I say this because I lived in California for three years and it rarely ever rained, except during the night when I was asleep and didn’t notice accordingly. So, California rain, when it did happen, was like something magical. Coming from Massachusetts, where it rains somewhat frequently, to somewhere you almost never see rain, it leaves you feeling awe-stricken, like you’re witnessing some sort of miracle as you watch the rain fall. “When California starts to rain and the feeling’s back again,” sings Goldroom himself during the song’s outro. It certainly takes me back. But this is a lovely track any pop fan should love and it’s far better than most tracks by DJ/producers to surface of late.
“Embrace” features George Maple, who, I should probably mention, is a woman. And she has a charming voice that sucks you right in. This one manages to sound modern while also having some ’90’s house music vibes via the keyboards and some of the beats. But there aren’t beats throughout the track, as there are parts that are just vocals and keyboards/synth. A lot of DJ/producers have a tendency to want every moment of their songs to have loud beats, so it’s refreshing to hear a song like this where its maker knows when to deliver the jackhammer beats and when to go subtle. You feel like you’re listening to a song, not a noisey club remix. “I think it’s important to be able to play your songs on an acoustic guitar and sing them, Goldroom states in his bio. “Otherwise, it’s probably not a good song.”
Chela is featured on the pop ballad “Fifteen,” which has serious ’80’s vibes going on. You’d swear this one was a lost Debbie Gibson track. Mind you, I’ve always liked Debbie Gibson, so I mean that as a compliment. And while a lot of artists are throwing around ’80’s style tunes lately, most of them sound like they’re trying too hard, but this one feels natural and it stays totally retro throughout, whereas a lot of these songs tend to incorporate modern elements that clash with the old school sounds creating something strange that can work beautifully but usually flops.
The final track on hand is “Tradewinds” featuring Kayslee Collins. Of all the songs here, this is the one that sounds most like a DJ produced it with its persistent, sonorous beats and funky bass. The first few tracks might have you wondering what a Goldroom DJ set sounds like since they’re all so pop as opposed to club ready bangers. But this one has him slamming the beats around like a pro. But I have to give him credit for knowing when to scale back on them again, as there are parts that are beat-less here, although I’m sure they can be filled in when other DJs incorporate this one into their sets, something that I think will be happening often this year. Especially in Europe, “Tradewinds” being a dead ringer for contemporary Europop. It just begs to be on a Bravo Hits or NRJ compilation already.
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