Express Check-in: Twin Tonality, Duett, Gunship, Gateway Drugs

I have a quick check-in for you today. Here are four new and old releases that I’ve been listening to, and that I think you should experience.

Twin Tonality – Twin Tonality

Karina Pankovska and Nicolaj Roos (see the feature photo above) formed new Danish/Latvian synth duo Twin Tonality last year and since then have created beautiful magic together. Their songs incorporate a compelling blend of uplift, gloom, and atmospheric and ethereal synths and vocals. The pair have cited Electric Youth, New Order, Chvrches, Beach House, and Daughter all as influences, and I can definitely hear them in Twin Tonality’s deft experiments with a harmony of the past and the present. (Although Chromatics vibes resonate, too.) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED RELEASE.

Duett – Cycles

When Duett released Borderline three years ago, I said the British-based producer refreshed synthwave (especially when he had Stewart Lockwood on vocals). I think synthwave is a bit too far gone into the dark side for Duett to have the same impact in 2018, however I’m entranced by new album Cycles. Naturally, the Lockwood appearance just reinforces for the billionth time that there needs to be a full LP of their collaborations, but the bliss doesn’t stop there. Bright ’80s retro, synth-driven soundscapes abound across 13 engaging cuts, bathing the compositions in a sheen of coke-dusted superficiality that connects our modern times to the decade that has lasted for decades.

Gunship – ‘When You Grow Up, Your Heart Dies (feat. GUNSHIP fans)’

Continuing with the 1980s theme is GUNSHIP, which is deep in a release cycle for new album Dark All Day. This new single is a synth-heavy call to not lose your heart’s warm core as you grow up and the world chips away at your soul. (The title is a quote from Ally Sheedy’s The Breakfast Club character Allison Reynolds.)

It features affirmations recorded by the band’s actual fans. “Keep on keepin’ on and don’t ever give up” is a paraphrase of the operative message, and one that seems pretty damn relevant right now.

Gateway Drugs – Dare Tonight

This is a re-up of a 2015 album that did not reach the heights it should have, and a reiteration of the talent of a Cape Town, South Africa-based band that seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth.

The minimalistic synth-pop songs are all very catchy, shining like retro-infused modern pop songs that make you happy with a contagious kinesis and a big, warm embrace. The retro homages are stronger on some songs than others — it’s like they’ve twisted a knob to control just how much Vince Clarke or Philip Oakey they should unleash, or what level of C86 they should mine. Overall, the experience is very rewarding. The synths are creative, the guitar parts snap, and the rhythms are moving. The vocals are the compelling glue that brings it all together.

Check them out if you like 2014-2015-era Paperwhite, Phantom Ride, or early Teeel or Wild Nothing.

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