Thunderstorms and Rainy Days’ masterful synth-pop has Foreign Republic poised on the edge of something quite special. While Matthew Smith aka Foreign Republic’s sound may not be too dissimilar to what has come before, his words carry more weight, the production is clearer, the basslines punchier and the melodies ebb and flow in your consciousness like precious reminders of a time you thought you had forgotten, or may still have to see. The New Jersey native’s crystalline voice echoes neatly above close friend and co-producer Aidan Swift’s mix. Graced with the production luster, instantaneousness catchiness, and Foreign Republic’s ability to reap meaning from the words and melodies, the album forays into facing the themes of darkness through life, love and social construct.
Foreign Republic gives a show stopping performance on the album opener, “Until I Die”, backed by the incessant pulse of bass and spiraling synths, the singer-songwriter’s ecstasy infused ear for an anthem, is fully realized. “This won’t end until they die. They will come for you and I,” warns the singer. His voice rising powerfully above the driving beat. “We must fight until they are dead,” he concludes. Foreign Republic’s ability to marry pop hooks with an overriding human quest for hope and survival is something quite special.
The album “Thunderstorms and Rainy Days” takes you on a journey of highs and lows. Boasting incredible explosions of sound, and intricate moments of bittersweet refuge, Foreign Republic has found his forte. “Nightmare” manages to capture what makes this project so great to begin with. Foreign Republic’s furrowed darkness that weaves so delicately with notions of a subtle radiant light. There’s something so uplifting about the synths and harmonies on this track, despite the sometimes somber lyrics.
Although synths remain at the heart of every track, they never blur into one, with each tune, standing firm in its own coherency. On “White Flag”, the keys are warm and earthy drawing you into Foreign Republic’s narrative. “I don’t want to fight anymore. I want to lie down right on the floor. But if I do that, then I might die. And I don’t want to die,” are the words that unfold the storyline.
By the time Foreign Republic reach the afflicted beauty of the melancholic title track, “Thunderstorms and Rainy Days”, its clear that Matthew Smith and Aidan Swift have crafted a record so uniquely their own, they might as well have their own sub-genre of music. “The Last Time” is a warm, inviting space, complete with a mid-tempo thumping beat and a cautionary theme, which leads us to the expansive and soulful chill of “Hold On”, which was also released as a single.
“Go Together” has to be one of the album’s absolute highlights. The production, the melody, and Foreign Republic’s nuanced vocals reach their apex here. The introductory piano motifs are already enough to hook listeners, let alone the engaging melodic soar that follows suit. What comes next is another one of the standout individual moments on this album, as the jangling guitar intro pulls you into “Escape” allowing for Foreign Republic to mesmerizingly flow across its sonic template.
“Blindfold” continues to highlight the shimmering guitar-driven backdrops that Foreign Republic executes as well he does the synth-driven soundscapes. The key, of course, are the captivating melodies he is able to construct above them. Which here again, is hard to resist. “You told me the world was evil. What about the beauty in people,” asks Foreign Republic. “I’ve met some evil and selfish folk, but the good in you and me outweighs them both.” The message is clear. “I want to take my blindfold off my eyes. It’s easy to look at all the evil, but when’s the last time that we appreciated all the good people?”
The electric piano leads us into the final track, entitled “Parasite”, which starts slowly, and steadily unleashes flourishes of beating drums. This keeps the song continually shapeshifting between an up-tempo bang and a downtempo lament, before finally exploding into a growling soar. Overall, Foreign Republic has put great thought into the album as a whole. He has not only utilized the recording as a musical art form in its own right, but also as a basis for unloading his complex, darkly tainted mindset and his varying emotional states, which are spectacularly documented across “Thunderstorms and Rainy Days”.
Connect with Foreign Republic on SPOTIFY and INSTAGRAM@foreignrepublicofficial