REVIEW: Timecop1983 – ‘Childhood Memories’

Timecop1983’s latest album, Childhood Memories, is a true-to-form synthwave collection that largely steers clear of the more elaborate quests of contemporaries like FM Attack, Robots With Rayguns and recent collaborator Futurecop!, and his own earlier work. This record finds its stride early and sticks to it, carrying out an understated exercise in colorful memories and tender melodies.

The highlight is “Timescapes,” which has Cork, Ireland-based Femmepop on the only lead vocals on the album. As she sings about the inner conflicts that go with trying to shed your past, the Dutch producer’s synthesizers weave in and out just on the cusp of exploding into the mix, coming back occasionally to haunt the song in ways that the past so often does. Just when you think it is good and buried the synthesizers return in full force, punctuating the need to come to terms with all of those memories.

“Space Jam,” another highlight, is a groover with a dark undertone. This would fit in quite nicely as the soundtrack to a montage in some 1980s film in which the protagonist is portrayed training for some match-up with his ultimate foe. There’s some chunky guitar riffage and a catchy synth lead that help make the cut perfect for either Daniel-san or the dance floor.

Most of the other songs carry on in the same vein, albeit some are a bit more upbeat. “Summer Love” is pretty self-explanatory. In this part of the film, the protagonist is goofing around with the love interest on their first real date. Maybe he plays with her hair, or she puts some whipped cream on his nose as they dine on chocolate shakes. Maybe the ferris wheel breaks down and they’re suspended in some state of mind bordering on pleasantly horrified and totally smitten. And maybe one of them goes in for the kiss? All kinds of (innocent) teenage romance goes on during this number.

The only problem with this album is that it plays it too safe. Like his genre contemporaries (and Timecop1983 himself) have done in the past, the producer features a female lead on the purported single and the songs follow, overall, the same tempo and vibe throughout the album. The difference is that the others have gotten a bit more adventurous, while staying true to the synthwave genre.

I’m curious about where Timecop1983 will go with his future releases. He’s a great artist who sculpts pleasing songs. I just want to see him break the mold a little more.

The album, which according to promo materials Playmaker Records originally released in February before going belly-up, showed up on the Dutch producer’s own Bandcamp page last week. Despite my criticisms, I still recommend you go snatch it up.