Today’s One-Liners column has some ferociously compelling cuts to recommend.
The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”
The Weeknd once took on vocal duties on a version of Kavinsky’s “Odd Look” a few years ago, but this time around he and his co-producers Max Martin and Oscar Holter have gone full synthwave. They’ve absolutely killed it — embracing the tropes with an infusion of emotional immediacy. An exercise like this could seem cynical, but it doesn’t come off that way. Welcome to the party, Abel. It’s a blast! Hit me up: I’ve got some great song recommendations for you.
Carly Paradis – ‘The Crushing Weight of HIstory (Michael Stein remix)’
It’s a meeting of two gifted composers: Carly Paradis and SURVIVE’s and Stranger Things‘ Michael Stein. Stein takes the original, Jonas Bjerre-featuring orchestral track and turns it into a gigantic blast of cinematic synthesized bliss that evokes Brad Fiedel’s The Terminator score and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Mandy soundtrack. Find this and other excellent cuts on Paradis’ third solo album, Nothing is Something. The album is out now. (Learn more about the Canadian film and TV composer/Clint Mansell affiliate Paradis.)
Nina – “Automatic Call”
“Automatic Call” is the first single off the UK-based singer’s upcoming second album. It’s got an energized rhythm section that supports Nina’s engaging vocals, revealing a beautifully vulnerable core. (The EP includes sick remixes from the following artists that you can’t miss: Morgan Willis, Absolute Valentine, Makeup and Vanity Set, The New Division, and Le Cassette.) Out now via Aztec.
New Arcades – Returning Home
UK-based New Arcades have been making dreamy synthwave longer than most people have heard of the genre. This is why their new album has such an appropriate title: Listening to them is like, well, returning home. Out now via Outland.
Phaserland – Flip The Switch
The Detroit-based Phaserland has been producing quality music within the genre for more than five years and it’s always worth celebrating when he releases a new record. Flip The Switch finds Phaserland following familiar territory with some great new embellishments. It’s a delight to experience. Out now.
Dreaming of Ghosts – ‘Where to Look in the Dark (Feat. Slow Shiver, Fiora, Robot Koch)’
Any song led by the velvet-voiced Slow Shiver is going to tug firmly at the fibers of your soul, but with this lineup and this darkly beautiful electronic composition, be prepared to think and feel things very deeply. You won’t come out of this the same, and that’s just fine. (I’m just highlighting this one song — you should definitely experience the entire album.) Out now.
Night Drive – ‘Cosmic Dancer’
The Valerie Collective-loving Night Drive have been flirting with going deeper into synthwave for a while, but their newest single is an interstellar trip through a wormhole to the 1980s nostalgia.
Beck – Hyperspace
Beck’s chameleon-like ways have generally suited him well and his latest album is no different. With Pharrell Williams, Cole M.G.N., Greg Kurstin, and Paul Epworth along for the ride, Beck blasts off into colorfully synthy world that often recalls a distinctly Ghostly International and/or Neon Indian palette. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a musician who could expertly channel ’80s Prince on Midnite Vultures or retro vibes on Colors could unleash a potently enticing A E S T H E T IC on Hyperspace.
(Editor’s Note: As established in this post, the One-Liners column is a concise but meaningful way to highlight Vehlinggo-recommended releases. It’s not exactly weekly, but it can be. Entries are almost never one line, but they could be. Check out the most recent one.)