COIN’s new album addresses relationship between human, machine


Photo courtesy of Genius

COIN releases their fifth album “Uncanny Valley,” on Friday. The album brings into question of human society in heavily dependent technological world.

By Sydney Wood, buzz Editor

The term uncanny valley describes the relationship between a robot’s human-like appearance and the emotional response it evokes from people. 

COIN’s latest album, “Uncanny Valley,” addresses this blur between the natural human world and the unnatural machine-driven world, questioning what it means to be human in a society filled to the brim with technology. 

“Uncanny Valley” is COIN’s fifth studio album and its fourth album released since 2020, a testament to the synth-rock band’s hardworking spirit and constantly evolving music. The Nashville-based band is composed of Chase Lawrence, lead vocalist and synth player; drummer Ryan Winnen; and Joe Memmel, lead guitarist and backup vocalist.

The album’s title references a term first coined by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in the 1970s. According to Mori, a robot reaches the uncanny valley when it arrives at the point where its resemblance to humans provokes feelings of uneasiness and revulsion in its observers. 

The album starts off with “Learning,” subverting the unease of the uncanny valley with soft, comforting synth chords and vocals that have a slight robotic undertone as Lawrence sings about being a robot learning how to love and be human, becoming more than “zeros and ones.” For an album starter, though, this tune is lackluster. 

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“Chapstick” features some of the band’s best qualities because of its balance between its funky bassline and drum rhythm, as the song revolves around artificial intelligence experiencing the most quintessential human experience — a first kiss. The tune’s leading guitar riff leaves listeners with an aftertaste ’70s rock ‘n’ roll. 

“Cutie” is one of the most upbeat love songs on the album that Lawrence first teased on his Instagram account at the beginning of January. The tune has a nice buildup from its intro and verses to each chorus, and tiny bass drops accentuate Lawrence’s transitions from his chest voice to falsetto between the verses and the chorus. It’s fun but not anything new for the band. 

The next tune on the album, “Take a Picture,” features choruses lush with Lawrence’s falsetto and synth chords that are reminiscent of flowers in bloom. Like “Cutie” and “Learning,” it’s okay but nothing more. 

“Brad Pitt” relies on a melody that occurs in the off-beats, which gives it a bouncy quality that carries the song through verses. This song has a dark yet groovy vibe that differentiates it from other tunes on the album, making it an album favorite. 

The first few seconds of “Killing Me” go back to the initial theme of the uncanny valley with a robot-like techno sound before shifting immediately into soft, slow-moving synth chords that are interrupted by a bass drop that completely changes the vibe of the song. The tune changes between soft, slow melodies; funky, bass-driven grooves; and stripped guitar parts, making it one of the more versatile tunes on the album. 

“I Think I Met You In A Dream” is one of the slower songs on the album, achieving an almost timeless feeling with its slow-moving synth melodies that languidly slide from note to note and a bassline that prevents the song’s tempo from slowing down. “I Think I Met You In A Dream” is one of the more thoughtful tunes on the album, slightly removing listeners from human reality. 

“Blackbox” is an almost pleading tune that reinforces the idea of being fully human, raising the question of whether the singer is a reliable human narrator or AI trying to convince listeners of its humanity. Instead of other tunes on the album that reach a climax during the chorus, “Blackbox” has a steady level of volume and energy that carry the tune from start to finish. 

“It Works” doesn’t provide anything new to “Uncanny Valley,” it’s a lackluster filler song for the album’s 14-song tracklist. “Take The Stairs” is about being okay with having no control over one’s life situation, supplemented by fun trumpet melodies and a simple yet appropriate bassline. 

Unlike most other tunes on the album, “Getting Older” maintains its chill groove throughout the song’s progression, moving smoothly between verses and choruses without the added emphasis of bass drops. The tune adopts a mature take on dealing with emotions and what it means to grow older, maintaining its bright instrumentals despite its sad lyrics.  

“Watering A Dead Flower” is reminiscent of early ’90s shoegaze-y guitar distortion and dreamy vocals that are a reminder of early ’00s emo-punk music. It’s a refreshing tune as the album moves into the 30-minute mark. 

“Plug Me In” is another slow tune, relying on Lawrence’s stripped vocals and an accompanying piano that embodies the turmoil of understanding the human experience. The vocals and piano gradually become textured with synth elements that remind listeners of the album’s focus on how machines cannot handle the human experience, no matter how much they attempt to. 

If “Uncanny Valley” was a movie, “Loving” would be the part where the main character realizes that his/her happy ending isn’t going to happen. Lawrence’s vocals are free from the robotic-inspired vocal effects that colored his voice at the album’s beginning. It goes hand-in-hand with the first tune on the album, “Learning” but is colored with the realization that becoming human isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. 

“Uncanny Valley” explores what it means to be human in a machine-driven world. It’s a coming-into-being album that uses the metaphor of robots becoming human to describe what it’s like for people to learn how to be human and the challenges that this learning process presents. 

It’s an album for those who aren’t sure how to be human, essentially a how-to guide for self-reflection and understanding one’s emotions. COIN travels through many forms of synth-based musical expression in “Uncanny Valley,” raising the question of whether the band’s synth- and techno-based approach to music is suitable for an album about self-discovery and being human. 


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