Formerly known as the Kopecky Family Band, this Nashville sextet brings an eyes-open approach to the world of hooking up, checking out, disappearing into technology and eschewing actual human engagement. On the band’s second full-length recording, they create sleek, rhythm-driven songs from the pain and betrayal they’ve endured. If plastic nihilism and self-involvement drive the bulk of Kardashian club culture, Kopecky waives that, preferring to look out and connect in ways that empower.
Embracing the Casio synths and programmed drums, the band harnesses machined pop music to both ‘80s idioms and the human touch within them. With concert strings rising atmospherically in the opening track, it’s hard to imagine the full neo-disco that emerges from Kopecky’s “Die Young.” But six bars in, the bass fattens, machined beats drop and the disaffected voice of the guitarist Gabe Simon floats over it all, making alienation sound so welcoming.
The synth references continue throughout Drug for the Modern Age. “My Love” sounds like a young Madonna fronting Daft Punk in the 21st century. And later, “Better Luck Next Time” evokes both the Cocteau and Thompson Twins, as acoustic guitar trade spaces with very processed electric guitar lines. It’s the lead single that’s most startling, though. The columns of synth rising in the churning hit “Quarterback” give way to Simon’s dry vocals, as romantic want turns to deliciously unabashed come-on.
Buffeted by life, friends who don’t hold up, lovers who won’t be there, Kopecky seems emancipated to find a new and better way to live. Easily the most hard-won, yet somehow confectionary song cycle of independence, Drug for the Modern Age inspires, drives and thrives right where it is.