Tag Archives: Synth Pop

Lust For Youth: International

LFY_International

Lust For Youth: International –With dreamy sound bites, exhilarating beats, and an ‘80s vibe, the band Lust For Youth has created something wonderful with their album International. The band, from Copenhagen, Denmark, includes members Hannes Norrvide, Loke Rahbek and Malthe Fischer. With just ten tracks on the album, Lust For Youth is able bring back the sounds of ‘80s bands such as Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and New Order while featuring their own unique talents.

The track, ‘Epoetin Alfa’ is the kind of song you listen to when you’re driving around with a group of friends at nighttime, trying to find something to do. In fact, the song sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to 2011 film Drive. ‘Illume’ is an upbeat track that definitely brightens up the album. However, there are times when the song sounds like a default ringtone on your cell phone. That being said, I probably wouldn’t want it for a ringtone because I would be so busy enjoying the song, I’d might actually forget to answer my phone, regardless of who was calling me.

In contrast to ‘Illume’, the song ‘New Boys’ contains a sort of stifled cheeriness which makes it kind of mysterious. ‘Ultras’, an instrumental, slowly fades in, like something majestic from the great depths of the ocean is emerging into view, with a nice touch of chimes heard at the end of the track.

One of the most especially intriguing tracks on International was ‘Lungomare’. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but I liked it. It’s mainly spoken word in a different language that could possibly be Italian (the title of the song is the name of a seafront promenade in Naples, Italy) with subtle music in the background. The nice, soothing voice and the music in the background was cool. With children yelling and playing around in the background, it’s definitely a song that you’d have to hear for yourself. ‘After Touch’’s electronic doo-wop sound easily reminded me of The Flamingos version of ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’ from the late 1950s.

‘Basorexia’ is an instrumental that simulates the feeling of lights swirling around above your head at a dance club. Part of you can’t stop looking at them, but another part of you wants to close your eyes and take it all in, getting lost in the moment. It includes various sound bites echoing in the background on a loop, some in different languages, but the ones in English sounded like they were saying “A couple of kisses and we’re there” and “but you have to want it though”. After searching online for the word “basorexia”, I found out that it is an informal term used to describe “a strong craving or hunger for kissing”. Interesting…

Overall, I find it fascinating when a band takes something that has already been created and recycles it in order to create something new. That being said, Lust For Youth has done something spectacular with this album. The various sound bites on the album are in different languages from French to Italian to English. It’s a cool concept for them to be incorporated in this kind of music. Sure you may not understand it all, but then again maybe that’s the point. It’s a way of bringing people from a myriad of cultural backgrounds together through music, and is most likely why the band’s album is called International. Either way, if you’re a fan of music that includes the creative use of dreamy sound bites, then this is an album that you should own…9.5/10

After Touch

Astronomique: Burning Stars Fade EP

Astromonique_BSF

Astronomique: Burning Stars Fade EP — From the name down, Astronomique is lost in space. The sounds, the vibe, the metaphors all have the feel of floating. The band fills every space with sound and the harmony spins and swirls around the listener in a futuristic yet impassioned onslaught.

The album begins with ‘Shaded Gray’. The style is set early on. The first sound you hear is a keyboard sounding somewhat reminiscent of a laser gun and we’re in outer space. The vocals are passionate and the lyrics are laced with metaphors such as “you are the moon” and “I’m the blushing sky.” ‘Push Rewind’s baseline has the feel of a typical 80’s new wave pop song however the ever-present keyboards and constant guitar lift the song to the spacey atmosphere that the band has claimed as there aesthetic. As far as lyrical content goes this song, like the one that preceded it, appears to lament a love that is no longer and does do somewhat drastically with the last line, “as you go I know your heart was meant for me.”

‘Pretend We’re Stars’ is an invitation, a plan of something to do while “wrapped in each other’s arms” you could be “watching stars collide” and while you’re their why not do as the title suggests and trade places with the stars. It’s a fun and flirty song that reflects the band’s theme as well as entices affection and companionship. While the first two songs were more about the loss of love, this one was firmly in the mid-love camp.

The angriest song on the album is almost certainly ‘Painting Silhouettes’. In it Logan Andra Fongemie decries her ex’s relationship with the very pointed line, “she is stick figures of insecurity led easily, you will find that subordination just leads to boredom.” Apparently, her ex chose the easier and less fulfilling route and this song is her to them them now how horribly they went wrong.

Like the rest of the album, ‘The Rawest Nerve’ is emotionally charged. If their destination is beyond our atmosphere, the passion generated in relationships is the fuel. While ‘Painting Silhouettes’ is perhaps the most lyrically pointed song on the album, this song is more vague, but is perhaps capable of cutting deeper. The line, “flirting with a needle” suggests that this song is somehow about addiction. Like the majority of the album it is about a relationship that cannot work any longer because the song’s antagonist is “lost in your mind chasing a feeling your trying to hide”. While spacey, Burning Stars Fade is never lost. It’s honesty and passion allows it to soar…8.7/10

Painting Silhouettes

Colleagues: Parent’s House

colleagues970

In Colleagues’ new music video for their single ‘Parent’s House‘, the song title ties it all up into one nostalgic knot. Playing with suburban wistfulness and teenage romance, Colleagues’ promise to “take you to my parent’s house/no one’s gonna be around.” Their cheeky come hither lyrics are paired with sonic playfulness to match. A strong synth pop quintet, they’re able to rectify classic 80’s synth riffs and stuttering rhythm guitar while sounding fresh out of 2014. Paired with footage of Roy Andersson’s 1970 cult classic “A Swedish Love Story,” the glow of high school romance and shadows of eternal ennui compliment the music beautifully. The dream pop vocals are just far enough away to create an air of mystery, but warm enough to pull you right into the center of the sound. Colleagues are a pop act to watch with ‘Parent’s House debuting off of In Stereo Records.

Lykke Li: I Never Learn

Lykke Li

Lykke Li: I Never Learn – Lykke Li’s third album, I Never Learn, finds her navigating similar musical territory as her previous two, but rather than sounding like a weary vagabond, she now seems much more like the intrepid explorer, despite her clearly shattered heart. It’s a little more stripped down, but that seems like a deliberate choice on her part in order to get to the root of her sadness. Li herself describes I Never Learn as a grouping of “power ballads for the broken”, which seems redundant, but we’ll forgive her the odd phrasing and instead praise her for the powerful album that she’s delivered.

The album delves into the emotions Li was attempting to reconcile following a devastating break-up that she went through a few years ago, and the songs are so personal that Li claimed that she never actually planned on releasing them in album form. Just glancing at some of the titles (‘Never Gonna Love Again’, ‘Heart of Steel’, and ‘Sleeping Alone’) reveals the palpable heartsickness that she must have endured while writing these tracks. And really, kudos to her for wearing her vulnerability on her sleeve and challenging her heart to a sort of cathartic battle in which she would either overcome her grief or die trying.

This new body of work includes more complex melodies and song structures, but there are still plenty of big, hooky choruses to keep more peripheral fans interested. The music soars on each of these nine tracks, even when they’re just skeletons of what could’ve been “bigger” tracks, but the weight of her sadness saddles them with a gravity that cannot be overcome. Her sometimes-smoky soprano lends itself well to the brand of dreamy synth-pop for which her native Swedes should be awarded some sort of medal or ribbon or Happy Meal toy. This woman’s voice is achingly gorgeous, but what makes her great is her ability to couple her vocal talents with a raw sense of humanity that most songwriters can only dream of.

Contrary to a few reviews circulating the sonicsphere, this is actually a more eclectic album musically than one first suspects. There are tracks built around sparse acoustic guitars (‘I Never Learn’ and ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone’), songscapes constructed on nothing more than the ivory keys of pianos (‘No Rest For The Wicked’ and ‘Sleeping Alone’), and crushing atmospheric songs that explode like fireworks of heartache (‘Gunshot’ and ‘Just Like A Dream’). Li has always been a talented musician who can play a multitude of instruments, but she really takes on the role of troubadour in I Never Learn that very few singer-songwriters are able to achieve at any point in their careers, much less on an entire album

There’s also a personal sense of bravery to I Never Learn that most 20-somethings are unable to really confront until much later in life. It’s as if Li is taking a nice hot bath in a tub full of regret with a Camus paperback resting in her sweaty palms and salty tears cascading down her cheeks. But there’s also a redemptive quality to a lot of these songs in that she’s staring down her demons in a contest to see who blinks first.

Obviously, this isn’t the sort of album that you want to blast in a crowded car of your besties on a road trip. It’s a celebration of sincere wallowing that most of us hopefully only have to experience once or twice in a lifetime. But the fact remains that we all have these paralyzing periods of overwhelming sadness, and rejection can be a strangely addictive bedfellow. For those of you out there that just don’t want to talk about it anymore, I Never Learn is the perfect record to cuddle up with as the tissues slowly run out and the rain softly pelts your window…8.2/10

Data Twins: Ava (Official Video) VS Premiere

DataTwins_Ava

My favorite thing about synth pop is its tendency to stay with me long after the songs have ended. The first moment I heard ‘Ava’ by Data Twins, I knew I was in for one of those moments. It has all the hallmarks of a great pop song: Memorable vocals/lyrics that speak to the romantic in me, catchy synths, and a beat that makes you want to groove. I suspect most of you will feel the same once you’ve heard it.

The idea for the music video for this song came from a friend. While most of you might recognize Andrew McCarthy from Pretty In Pink, you may have forgotten him in the genius that was 1987’s Mannequin. The love story that plays out between window dresser and mannequin-turned-woman-for-some-reason is as pure a love story as it is completely improbable. As you can see, they’re a natural pair in a lot of ways and was one of the easiest videos to put together because of that. Be sure to pre-order Data Twins’ debut Let’s Make It Tonight out May 27th on Synth Records.

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