Band of the Day

2011.12.31

Class Actress

A minimalist update of world-conquering early 80s synthpop
Fall apart because you're all I need. You make me late for work, you make me late for church, so hold to me.
lyrics from Weekend

Class Actress is a synthpop group based in Brooklyn, New York. The band was formed in 2009 by vocalist Elizabeth Harper and producers Mark Richardson and Scott Rosenthal. A native of Los Angeles, Harper studied acting at the University of California, Berkeley before moving to New York after graduating. While originally intending to pursue an acting career, Harper shifted towards music. First performing as a traditional acoustic singer/songwriter, she began working with Mark Richardson and embraced 80s dance music inspired by UK bands like the Human League and Depeche Mode. Class Actress' music is fairly sparse, highlighting the metallic beats, synths and Harper's vocals. Unlike many current 80s influenced bands, their songs are crisp and hi-fidelity. The band recorded their debut EP Journal of Ardency in 2010 and released it on Terrible Records. They followed up with their debut album, Rapprocher, on Car Park Records, released in late 2011.

Class Actress singer Elizabeth Harper originally dreamed of being an actress. A native of entertainment epicenter L.A., she studied acting at the University of Berkeley and moved to New York to try and make it. Shortly after moving, she got distracted from acting, hooking up with Mark Richardson and Scott Rosenthal to make synth pop inspired by early 80s stars like Depeche Mode and Madonna. Harper's a musician now, but the acting roots die hard: Class Actress have glamour and pizazz. From the film noir-style, lingerie clad promo shots, to Harper's sprightly, sultry vocals and the group's glittering synths, they've got attitude. One of the first things that strikes you after putting on Class Actress' debut album Reapprocher is how clean it is: the synths sparkle and jump out of the speakers, Harper's vocals are clear and crisp. On opener “Keep You,” Harper darts from an ultra cool, unperturbed verse to a super catchy falsetto chorus, her voice twirling over pounding dance beats and 80s synths. “Weekend” is another highlight, showing the groups skill for laying down a great groove. It's basically just an industrial bang of a beat and an elastic bass-line, but they turn it into a propulsive hip shaker. Things get even more intriguing after the chorus, when a shimmering wall of lighter-waving, anthemic synths explode onto the track and Harper moves back into her bouncing trill of a falsetto, repeating “why you gotta make it so hard on me?” It's a moment that reaches beyond fun, hip dance song, you want to play it over and over again. Reapprocher is sleek and sexy, and while it's strongly grounded in early 80s synth pop, it still manages to feel modern. More importantly, Class Actress manages to encapsulate the pop soul of divas from Madonna to Cyndi Lauper to Lady Gaga, yet still have a unique and individual sound.