For some time now we’ve been following the adventures of Jack Slade, a one man army better known as Street Cleaner. Fans, admirers of his brand of justice, will be excited to see he’s continuing his quest, and this chapter is entitled Shutdown.
Shutdown begins with 'The Obsolete Man', an imposing intro not unlike something out of Inception, and continues with 'Felony Evading', which is wonderfully urgent outrun tinged with a bit of 80’s racing game flair. Throughout the first two tracks we hear a lot of police chatter on the radio, perhaps the cops are out to bring Street Cleaner to justice in this chapter? 'M.O.T.W.' slows down the tempo and cuts the radio chatter for a grimy descent into the streets. Street Cleaner has shaken the law for now, and there’s still work to be done.
'Guilt and Worthlessness' is a pause in the story, a moment of reflection and a synth vision of a troubled man looking at a troubled city. Why exactly has Slade become the Street Cleaner? Perhaps he lost someone, perhaps he couldn’t save someone…
'Boardwalk' brings a little of that retro game feel back, with an upbeat track that inspires an image of many bad dudes getting roughed up as the hero casually walks down a city street. 'Valley of the Shadow' is another punctuation point in the story. Synths glitter and basses thunder as planes fly overhead. Perhaps the Street Cleaner has found the true villain, perhaps the showdown is nearing.
'Escape Clause' is another OutRun track that has a more liberating, less intense feel to it than 'Felony Evading'. Perhaps Street Cleaner is ready to face his enemy, and knows win or lose, he’ll be free. He just has one more piece of trash to clean up. 'Facing the Beast' changes the mood immediately and is borderline horror synth, complete with ominous laughter. It very much captures the spirit of the final fight scene in a film, or the last boss in a game. 'Never Again' is a pretty big hint that Street Cleaner got his man, and walks away triumphantly, perhaps retiring his fearsome title. It’s a proud track with an introspective string and synth ending. Has Jack Slade found peace? Will his vow stand now that there’s no one left to fight? As he speeds away into the horizon, only one person knows for sure if we’ll see Street Cleaner return.
All the Street Cleaner albums have had a distinctive narrative feel to them and they cease to be albums with each track following a musical style or concept, and more like pulp stories that construct themselves in the mind as one listens. Still, I have to judge the musical content and I will say that it’s a very strong entry into the synthwave zeitgeist. It’s got everything one comes to expect at this point, but with a singular purpose, which has set all of Street Cleaner’s work apart. I wonder where it’ll go from here, and if I may go on a quick tangent, I wish we could expand our beloved genre further. In the case of Street Cleaner, perhaps get some artists to draw some comic book panels to go with the music, sort of like the animated comics that are all over YouTube. But I digress, I’m fascinated with the character of Jack Slade and I hope his vigilante justice continues soon.
Street Cleaner presents Shutdown, which is available for purchase at his Bandcamp here, and comes very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.