The Formalist is an electronic pop duo comprised of Erik Laroi (vocals, guitar) and Stephen Krieger (beats, sampling). Laroi and Krieger met during the late '90s through the college music scene at Columbia University in New York at a monthly series of clandestine exhibitions featuring experimental music, art, and performance. Back in the day, Laroi was drumming for shoegazing band Closer and Krieger was in the experimental outfit The Freight Elevator Quartet, who would go on to release File Under Futurism with DJ Spooky and Becoming Transparent both on Caipirinha Records.
After various collaborations including with Lorraine Lelis on the shoegaze/dreampop/electronica trio Lexica, Laroi and Krieger established The Formalist in 2006 to showcase their melodic pop songs in a modern, electronic context. With a stripped-down palate and refined approach, The Formalist combines Laroi's catchy melancholic vocals with brittle guitars, looped sound collages, and atmospheric harmonies.
You may have heard Laroi’s beautiful, intimate reimaginings of his favorite tunes from the 80s under the moniker Soft News which was released over the past five years to critical acclaim.
The Formalist expands the palette by bringing together elements of dream pop, new wave, and electronica in tracks with depth, subtlety, and a solid beat. Opening track “Tricks” provides a euphoric, propulsive platform for Laroi’s sexy, devastating lyrics and deceptively soothing harmonies, setting the tone for the rest of the album. “Stories for Old” might be the catchiest song ever written about confronting the end of the world. “Wind the Tape Back” updates classic new wave’s penchant for making the listener not know if they should dance or cry. “An Amoral Animal” injects a note of lust and dub into the mix, and album closer “Tomorrow Ignites” throbs its way towards ending the album with an air of uplift. Originally recorded back in 2008, the album is as relevant and evocative now as it was a decade ago. It’s debut release on Brooklyn’s Mother West label will be on October 25th, 2019.