With each successive year synth music goes from strength to strength. The Synthwave scene now encompasses a dazzling array of music and styles. If you have no idea what I’m talking about (shame on you) then read this.
Here are some of the best synth albums, EPs and singles released over the past year.
Timecop1983 – Lovers Part 2
Nobody captures the mood of a balmy summer evening in the early ’80s quite like Timecop. His sweet and melodic music has made him one of the best liked synth artists, and a perfect gateway into the wider genre.
In the second part of his Lovers series, the Dutch composer delves deeper into the sounds of summer romance. ‘Girl’ is the highlight – a further collab with SEAWAVES – built around a simple melodic hook that ebbs and flows through the track, with a hazy beat and echoed vocals.
The album ends with the suggestion the love affair may be over on the ruminative ‘Moving On’ & ‘Silent Tears’. If that is the case, the Lovers series has provided some of the most gorgeous synth music of the past few years, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.
Our interview with Timecop1983 here.
Com Truise – Iteration
Icy, minimalist, paranoid space disco from the darkest timeline. Tightly wound lattices of synthetic bass, sunny loops and icy melodies operate above skittering beats, maintaining constant friction that hermetically seal the record. Vacuum-pop.
It was the best album of the year. Is there more that needs to be said?
The Midnight – Nocturnal
Over just seven songs, the songwriting duo cover heartbreak, self-discovery, the beauty of the city at night and, on the title track, a hypnotic blend of all three. Nocturnal is a gateway album into the charm of synth music itself.
Read our interview with The Midnight here.
The Euro Theatre – Disco Misco
A wonderful combination of old and new, Disco Misco is one of the most satisfying debuts of the year. The standout is still ‘Snake’, a cinematic track so laced with intrigue it really ought to be scoring a Cold War thriller. Disco proves a sufficiently diverse ride, sometimes funky but other times moody: see the filmic ‘Montana’ and the title track, dedicated to studio 54.
Read our interview with The Euro Theatre here.
Trevor Something – Suicide
Ever-mysterious, the musician who allegedly lives in Miami, but sounds like he’s from Manchester, was reborn on Suicide. Purists balked at the almost alt-rock feel of the title track, but we had the last laugh. Suicide was Trevor’s most engaging album, combining the moodscapes of Soulless Computer Boy… with a renewed commitment to groove.
FM Attack – Stellar
FM returned with his brand of stiff synth-funk – sounding shinier than ever. The chiming cymbals of ‘Frozen’ are sufficiently frosty and should definitely have soundtracked the level ‘Snow Go’ from Crash Bandicoot 2. ‘Inner Space’ has a bloopy, ’70s Logan’s Run sort of vibe to it, while the standout is the lovely ‘Images of You’. Also the best cover art of the year.
Read our interview with FM Attack here.
Anoraak – Black Gold Sun EP
I’ve gushed over this EP so much I’m running out of praise to throw at it. A slick, stylish no-frills EP with measured pace and great style. ‘Loungewave’ is still a descriptor I feel better fits Anoraak’s music. ‘Skyline’ may have the slow-burn adrenaline rush that synthwave often delivers but it is lavishly produced; it sounds so much more accomplished and polished than similar releases.
Meanwhile ‘Evolve’, with the clipped idiosyncrasies of singer Lydmor, is up there with ‘We Lost’ as some of the most gorgeous pop Anoraak has produced. The guy really is in a league of his own.
Jordan F & Vast Hill – The Win EP
Aussie synthwavers Vast Hill and Jordan F team up on this feel-good short play. Timelines saw Jordan F loosening up his sound and toying with House beats and sheer Pop thrills – an approach he furthers on The Win.
The gorgeous vocals of Vast Hill singer Elle blend perfectly with Jordan F’s optimistic tone. ‘Until The End’ is pure head rush, ’72 Steps’ is the perfect accompaniment to that scene and ‘Ready for the Night’ bursts with melodic intent.
The Win proved a fruitful collab that captured the fist-pumping tenacity of its muse – Rocky Balboa.
Read our interview with Jordan F here.
M. Avossa – Miami Nights
Unashamed disco banger. From the endless drum fills, the stonking bassline and kitschy melodies, everything about this track crackles with life and vitality. What a tune.
Mitch Murder – Taken
A Halloween surprise for all (see also Le Matos’ rework of the Halloween theme) – Mitch returns to the Darkwave mood of ‘Interceptor’. That perfectly retro, dusty feel is intact. Listening to Mitch Murder is truly one of life’s great pleasures.
Dana Jean Phoenix – I.O.U.
‘I.O.U.’ is sheer Pop sugar rush. From the stiff beat, charming lyricisms and masterful middle-eight – this is an absolute banger. While Dana’s voice is as honey-sweet as ever, the real moment of genius is the titular refrain itself; an ear-worm that stays with you long afterwards.
Syntax feat. Droid Bishop – Bellatrix
A multi-part epic, a journey through House, Italo-Disco, and ending on an exhilirating coda weirdly reminiscent of ‘Sputnik’ by PSB. ‘Bellatrix’ is everything we love about synth music and more. Ambitiously arranged and thrilling throughout.
Speed Limits – Rimini Rimini
A Post-Disco track inspired by a legendary Italian B-Movie. What more could you want?
Read our interview with Speed Limits here.
Michael Elliot – June ’87
Synthpop journey into the dawn of the Internet Age, accompanied by the chime of dial-up broadband and the stomp of gated reverb.
Read our interview with Michael Elliot here.
We have a series called Secrets of Synth featuring interviews with synth artists.
Read our three part guide to Synthwave here.