Matthew Smith aka Foreign Republic, is a brand new 19 year old artist who resides in New Jersey. He makes all his music in his bedroom on a laptop, while his friend Aidan Swift co-produces and mixes his tracks. Surprisingly then, Foreign Republic’s EP ‘Break Your Fall’, consists of tasteful, sophisticated and detailed pop music with both a strong retro-synthwave and urban twist. The result is an astonishing, glistening 5-track collection of summer-perfect pop, with a slight tinge of melancholy, crafted by a gifted songwriter with an ear-warming voice and a knack for hooks.
The EP opens with the title track, ‘Break Your Fall’, where Foreign Republic makes a good case for why we should love him. Warm pads, scintillating keys, skittering hi-hats and a sweeping melody are underscored by a broiling bassline. “Breathe in, breathe out, I will always break your fall,” cites the hook-line. It falls within the realm of popwave music, blending elements of traditional synthwave, and infusing it with a modern vocal delivery and a contemporary pop production. The result is wholly unique to the 2020’s.
The same applies to ‘Attention’, which draws even more deeply from classic 80’s upbeat synthwave flavors. However, the track ‘System’, instead of adhering strictly to nostalgia, represents a bold evolution outward and onward beyond retro-synth music. The slower beat gives the track a mesmerizing quality, as Foreign Republic’s voice is able to soar above the arrangement at will.
The strength of the music is supplemented with lyrics that manage to remain humble and grounded while being perfectly poetic, and engagingly sentimental. This is particularly evident on ‘Let’s Go’, another story about relationship intricacies. This is a top-tier breakup styled song that hits a range of emotions with a mature attitude, making it distinct from the usual self-pitying approach to the subject. ‘Let’s Go’ practically justifies grabbing the entire EP, by itself.
‘At Arm’s Length’ switches the sonic template on the intro, with a dominating acoustic guitar, before the synths settle in again. It’s a pattern that repeats itself, moving forward. This is another standout track, with excellent melody line.
This story is told equally through the lyrics and music, building patiently. At a time when the pop music and electronic genres are collapsing under the weight of simple-minded and crudely composed music, Foreign Republic delivers some substance that looks both backward and forward.
Whether the retro-synthwave analogies have been explicitly contemplated by the production team, or if they’re simply assumed so by me, is irrelevant, as from top to bottom, ‘Break Your Fall’ reveals the mark of an aspiring professional musician: via the elaborate but often subtly addictive melody lines, the pitch-perfect vocal performances, the well-executed effects, and the expertly balanced audio production.
These things are present on every track of the EP, and just to sweeten the pot, Foreign Republic has filled the recording with a great selection of music. The result is one of those rare debut recordings that delivers on every level, making it a must-hear recording for fans of synthwave, electronic music and modern pop in general.
Connect with Foreign Republic on SPOTIFY and INSTAGRAM@foreignrepublicofficial