Album Review: The New Division’s ‘Together We Shine’
The New Division are back with their brand new sophomore effort, Together We Shine, out today on Division 87 Records. A progressive jump from their 2011 debut, Shadows, Together We Shine feels like the miracle child not only for fans, but for the band as well. A year into recording, the band’s hard drive was tragically corrupted which forced them to start from scratch. The result: a brand new glowing array of material that is guaranteed to tug on the heartstrings of enthusiastic synth junkies.
The elements of Together We Shine really do indeed shine when blended together. Mixing the glorious sounds of synthpop, trance and progressive house, vocalist/producer John Kunkel manages to beautifully balance it all together to form an original body of musical bliss – not to mention the killer collaborations with Starflyer 59, Keep Shelly in Athens and The Killers’ lead-guitarist Dave Keuning. Needless to say, I live for albums like this.
Every band needs at least one epic intro on a record. TND’s is top notch and one I’ll definitely be adding to my favorites alongside The xx and Warpaint. “Den Bosch,” “Shine,” and lead single, “Stockholm,” will have you on your toes, craving more with every infectious beat. Second single, “Honest,” has been on repeat for the past month. Lulling guitars that hint at 80’s revivalism, lyrical content that tugs at the heartstrings (“’cause you’re honest all the time / let my head rest in your arms”) and Kunkel’s soothing vocals make this one hard to forget. It kind of makes you wish personal lullabies were an ongoing sideproject for Kunkel.
“Smile” touches on the universal subject of pain and the promise of better days. We all have that one person who’s smile is infectious and can brighten up any situation. This song is an ode to those special people. “Lifted” has a Europop feel that I may or may not have fist pumped to a few times. I regret nothing.
I think it’s safe to say that “England” is the album’s ‘whoa’ track. Featuring Keep Shelly in Athens, who also provided vocals on the band’s previous EP, Night Escape, prepare to be blown away. “England’s” chill-factor is beyond epic proportions to the point where I found myself hitting repeat so I can discover something else I hadn’t heard or felt during the first listen. You’re going to want to keep this song handy while stargazing or going for a night drive. It’s dark, seductive aesthetic will have you, like myself, craving more and hitting repeat. Watch out, Armin!
“Bright Morning Star” has ‘potential crowd favorite’ written all over it. Experiencing this album live is now on my to-do list.
The album ends on a melancholy note with “Lisbon.” With lyrics like “I’ve been trying to sleep at night, but nothing works / I’ll take my time to fall in love again,” it’s hard not to reminisce on past loves that ended in heartache, while still yearning for new beginnings. Kunkel’s honesty is refreshing and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one with a sleeping problem.
If this album were a person, I’m pretty sure it would be my musical soul mate. Together We Shine is a fantastic follow up that will continue to break barriers and up the ante in the music industry for years to come.
Catch The New Division on their west coast run of the Together We Shine Tour. Dates and ticket info can be found here.
Together We Shine is available now HERE.
Support hardcopy music and purchase a CD here. Vinyl coming soon!
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