Uncanny Valley /noun/ used in reference to the phenomenon whereby a computer-generated figure or humanoid robot bearing near-identical resemblance to a human being arouses a sense of unease or revulsion in the person viewing it.
That’s what the Oxford dictionary defines the term “Uncanny Valley” as, and the band COIN’s album of the same name definitely carries this tone throughout the songs and music videos.
Released on March 22nd 2022, Uncanny Valley is COIN’s fifth studio album and featured four singles prior to the full album release: “Chapstick,” “Cutie,” “I Think I Met You In a Dream,” and “Brad Pitt.” While the name COIN might not sound familiar, there’s a good chance you’ve heard their 2016 hit “Talk Too Much” which charted at number eight on the US alt. charts and later went gold.
Uncanny Valley is by far much more experimental than their previous albums, and brings in a more electronic sound, with voice effects and robotic messages featured in several songs. The entire tracklist focuses on themes about social media, what makes us human, and what’s pushing that line into the Uncanny Valley, all with a dystopian tone.
Personally, I think the song that’s become my favorite is “Brad Pitt.” The song has been described by lead singer Chase Lawrence as “…[centering] around this idea of relevance and clinging onto our youth and this idea of identity–not knowing who we are, what it looks like to age gracefully, and not knowing how to embrace moving on and getting older.” The music video continues this, showing Lawrence attending his own funeral via a screen and then emerging out of the coffin after it gets plugged in. All of the videos carry this “dystopian technology/questioning humanity” theme, which brings out this unsettling yet intriguing feeling. “Chapstick” the album’s first single to release, combines human vocals with computer distortion, and the result is a very “modern” sounding alt. rock song.
I’ve been a fan of COIN since 2017, and was finally able to see them play at the NY State Fair this year. At the show they mentioned how this was the first fair they’d played, and despite the extreme heat and slight chaos before the show, I can say that their catchy danceable songs sound even better in person. The setlist included several of the 14 songs of Uncanny Valley, along with old favorites such as “Malibu 1992.” Also included were some of my favorite COIN songs that have been released in the last few years such as “Cemetery” and “Crash My Car,” and judging by the loud applause and full concert venue, I can say other fans also enjoyed the show.If you were to listen to every album of COIN’s, no two would sound the same, and that’s part of the band’s appeal. Nearly all of their songs carry an upbeat, summery, feeling to them, but that’s not to discount their lyrical meaning. Their songs mix story and sound, leaving each one uniquely…COIN. So if you’re looking for an album to both dance to and contimplate the future, step into the Uncanny Valley and you won’t be disappointed.
Emily Imanishi is a Junior Writing for Film, TV & Emerging Media major who starts dancing in Target whenever a COIN song comes on. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.