Discontinue Normal Program
There is beauty in its sweet destruction. That may be the unintentional purpose behind Thurlowood’s Discontinue Normal Program. Andrew Thurlo Wood came across the book, Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan To Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die, by Garrett M. Graff. That personal read sent shock waves through his creative process, culminating in a collection of catchy synth pop songs about nuclear armageddon.
Powering through the opener, “Survivalist,” Thurlowood captures the essence of synthetic pop as ethereal and punctual. With its dirty production factors, there is a creepy underlying premise to the song in that you get the feeling of uncertainty in this journey.
“Madman” pushes forward with vintage Moog melody stabilizers and danceable songwriting. The song is a great example of Thurlowood tapping into 1970s panic culture by creating a dance song for the end of the world. His historical observations allow him to present a universal quality in his songwriting.
Discontinue Normal Program is not easy listening, but it should not be. If it was, it would gloss over the purpose and emotional ideology. With the album’s grittiness, it provokes thought and Thurlowood taunts you with his untamed falsetto or soft-tongued crooning.
But when you get to “Hawaiian Sunshine,” Thurlowood becomes angry. This is a cause for alarm, and you cannot help but place the song in our current context instead of looking back to Pearl Harbor. The song is uncomfortable in its catchiness. How are we supposed to feel at this moment? How are we supposed to view the world? Suddenly any form of enlightenment shutters. But what this song should give us is defiance and power before he leaves us with songs of contemplation. The ending is certainly more powerful than the beginning.
8. Hawaiian Sunshine