The work rate of Khaela Maricich, the only constant in synthpop outfit The Blow, has been lax over the latter half of her project's existence. To start with, when it was a purely solo endeavour with no grand scheme or explosive plots, she was churning out material, and then, after a full-length LP – Paper Television – with YACHT's Jona Bechtolt, nada. Since 2007, Maricich has been elusive. Apparently, she'd been recording a new album (what would later become her upcoming eponymous release) about "someone who is quasi-lesbian and might have gone off the rails." After drafting visual artist, producer and girlfriend Melissa Dyne into the inner circle of The Blow to assist in creating the record, the long wait for more sounds is finally over.

Opening with the drum machine barrage of 'Make It Up', a sublimely bubblegummy slab of pop-cake, the record starts strong. There's golden harmonies and lurching synth jerks, it's replete with gasps and jittering beats. The effort is instantly infectious; it almost sounds like the main song'n'dance number to a future Broadway smash-hit. Unfortunately, The Blow doesn't start as it means to go on.

There are occasional moments of magic, but on the whole, the record's a slog. There's not so much a natural desire to find out what's next, rather a niggling duty to soldier on and the prospect of the guilt of giving up being too heavy a burden. Finishing the record in one go is more an act of politeness. A lot of the sounds feel tasteless (not like Ricky Gervais, more like a fast food salad bland), and is perfectly content to wade in limpid pools of comfort. Nothing's bad per se, but it feels a tad phoned in. While Dyne and Maricich perform ably and make coherent sounds with nice lyrics, there's little boundary pushing. That wouldn't an issue if there was something familiar that incited intrigue, but alas, it's disproportionately tame: not out of fear, it would appear, but rather out of complacency. This is the Chinese Democracy of synthpop, kind of.

However, as previously mentioned, there are moments of magic. 'Make It Up' is great, but completely unrepresentative of The Blow as a whole. 'Hey' wields glorious vocal melodies and a chorus simply bursting with gorgeous production. It's scattered with sunny fragments, and despite the juxtaposing words, it's uplifting. The Feist-y 'You're My Light' is wonderful too, with woodwind synths and tense folktronica passages. There's a subtle darkness on offer, but it's ultimately a beacon of hope on the record: "When they ask you 'what do you do?'/ what do we do?/ we go hand in hand into the blackness." It ignites a warm, fuzzy happiness in your gut.

Perhaps the reason that this album struggles is an unfortunate trifecta of issues: the loss of Bechtolt, the fact it's been over half a decade and Maricich may be rusty as a writer, and the new band dynamic. It may have been more prudent, in hindsight, to trim the fat from this and come back to the fray with a decisively strong EP, and then move onwards to a fully-fledged album. Maybe.